North

4 months after vacating sinking building, Northern Frontier Visitors Association mulls dissolution

On Oct. 2, members will decide at a special meeting whether to continue looking, become an advocacy group, or whether to dissolve the association entirely.

Association to vote Oct. 2 on whether to continue, become an advocacy group or dissolve

The visitors centre, which opened about 25 years ago, was built on pilings and partly overhangs a small pond. It’s been sinking and shifting for years. (Randall Mckenzie/CBC)

As of October 1, visitor services will no longer be available at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre — at least not provided by the Northern Frontier Visitors Association (NFVA).

For months, the organization has tried to find a new permanent location for its services for tourists, while it operates out of the heritage centre.

But it's now on the verge of giving up.

A special meeting for members will determine the future of the NFVA on Oct. 2.

Tracy Therrien, executive director of the Northern Frontier Visitors Association, says the membership will decide on the future of the association at a meeting on Oct. 2. (CBC)

"The association will determine if they want to continue … operating possibly as an advocacy group or continuing to work towards a new visitors centre," said Tracy Therrien, executive director of the NFVA. "Or would they like to dissolve the association."

Before the visitors centre was forced to shut in mid-May, due to major structural issues, the association employed six full-time staff and two casual part-time staff.

Only two employees remain at the scaled-down operation at the heritage centre — and they too will lose their jobs at the end of the month.

The City of Yellowknife previously offered an additional $17,000 in funding to help the non-profit organization make the transition to the heritage centre.

Therrien says there have been no recent discussions on more funding from the City of Yellowknife or the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT).

The association's members have received partial membership refunds and the bulk of the association's inventory has been either sold or returned to suppliers for refund.

The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre will continue to host visitors services for Yellowknife until the end of the month. (Chuck Stoody/Canadian Press)

Avoiding gap in 'vital service'

The City of Yellowknife is now considering a partnership with the GNWT until March 2018, to offer visitor services. According to the city, "it is imperative that there is no gap in this vital service for the upcoming aurora season."

At a municipal services committee meeting on Monday, the committee also recommended developing a "longer term plan" with the GNWT for visitors services in Yellowknife.

MLAs have pointed out the GNWT owns and operates most visitor centres across the territory.

For now, various locations, including City Hall, are being considered to host visitors services.

The City is also looking at long-term partnerships with First Nations, including the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, the Community Government of Behchoko and the Tlicho Government.

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