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Hay River proposes harbour commission

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Monday, October 15, 2007

HAY RIVER - The Town of Hay River is proposing a new harbour commission to improve safety and efficient use of a busy section of the community's namesake river.

"It comes from the fact it's getting busier and busier down in the harbour," said Mayor John Pollard.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

The Town of Hay River is promoting the creation of a harbour commission to regulate a busy section of the river. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

While he is not aware of any collisions in the past, Pollard said, "I've seen some close calls down there."

The town has also received complaints about the speed of some vessels, such as the Sea-Doo personal watercraft, he said.

"They really zip around out there," he said

The mayor said a harbour commission will involve users of all kinds of vessels - barges, tugs, jet boats, pleasure boats, Sea-Doos and canoes - plus water-skiers, traditional fishers and pilots who use the river to take off and land.

"The purpose is not to restrict anybody or get in anybody's way," Pollard said.

Instead, he said users would develop a protocol on what's acceptable in the harbour area, including off the public beach.

Pollard said he is not sure what the commission will recommend.

"They use the river and hopefully they'll come up with a workable plan," he said.

If the commission needs more clout than a voluntary protocol could provide, the town would consider passing a bylaw to enforce the rules.

Most of the area at the mouth of the Hay River falls under the town's jurisdiction.

Pollard said there are a number of ways to make the river safer.

For example, he said a strobe light that could be triggered by approaching pilots could be installed to let other harbour users know a plane is landing.

There will be a meeting in the new year to further discuss a harbour commission, Pollard said.

"We'll try to have something in place for break-up in May," he said.

Pleasure boater Garry Carter said he thinks a harbour commission is a good idea.

Carter, who owns a former fishing vessel converted into a pleasure boat, said things have gotten busier in the harbour in the past few years.

Carter would also like a commission to look into finding a secure place to park larger pleasure boats.

"I'm more worried about vandalism and things like that," he said.

Carter said he hopes enough users of the harbour will become involved to make a positive difference.