The Łutsel K’e Dene First Nation are voicing frustration over a delay in business licensing for the recently acquired Frontier Lodge.
LKDFN bought the Frontier Lodge, a top fishing destination in the NWT, this past December from its former Albertan owners.
A news release said the community “intends the Lodge to become the gateway to Thaidene Nene, providing jobs and creating opportunities to showcase the beauty of the East Arm and the Dene way of life.”
However, that plan has been delayed as the LKDFN awaits a business licence from the department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA).
The news release said MACA was cancelling occupancy permits issued in March to Frontier Lodge pending a “policy review” of requirements for licensing remote lodges.
Chief Darryl Marlowe said tourist operators are already hurting financially from COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s hard enough to try to operate a tourism business in the middle of a pandemic but we didn’t expect to have to fight the GNWT to license a business that has been operating safely and successfully for decades,” he said.
The issue of the Frontier Lodge came up during Wednesday’s sitting of the Legislative Assembly.
Tu Nehdé-Wiilideh MLA Steve Norn, who represents LKDFN, pressed Municipal and Community Affairs Minister Caroline Cochrane on the department’s regulations.
She said LKDFN wants a liquor permit for the lodge, which means it also needs a business license, occupancy permit and inspection from the fire marshal.
“My opinion is we were a little lenient with lodges before,” said Cochrane. “We did a review of the Fire Prevention Act and it really did confirm that all remote fishing lodges are subject to the building code, it just happens this lodge was one of the first ones after that review. It’s not that we want to penalize, we want to help them. But we also have to make sure that people do follow the law.”
Norn said “enough is enough” in regards to the delay to get the lodge up and running.
Cochrane said she recognized the delay but blamed MACA’s slow response on COVID-19.