Business advisory council gives private sector ‘a voice’ in reopening plan

Katrina Nokleby at the Legislative Assembly. (File photo/CKLB)

A business advisory council is aiming to provide recommendations for the territory’s COVID-19 reopening plan.

The council consists of 17 members of the business community from across the Northwest Territories.

Paul Gruner and Jenni Bruce, co-chairs of the council, said ensuring an economically and regionally diverse group was imperative to the success of the venture. Each sector of the economy is different as are the regions of the NWT, Bruce said.

The council had its first meeting on June 6 over a Zoom video call.

“Some of us have never met in person but look forward to it one day,” Bruce said with a laugh.

The council plans to meet every Thursday and said it hopes to have recommendations for the GNWT in the coming weeks. No recommendations have been provided as of Monday.

However, the co-chairs will speak with by Katrina Nokleby, minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, after each meeting, to keep her up to date.

Nokleby, who launched the council said the initiative is important for the territory to reopen.

“The Business Advisory Council will be the forum for these discussions – from the immediate needs of economic relief to the longer-term strategic actions and investments needed for recovery,” she said in an email.

Gruner said the GNWT deserves credit for involving the private sector in reopening discussions.

“Folks are taking this very seriously,” Gruner said. “They recognize the need to really have a voice in the private sector.”

Although economic growth is the end goal, both Bruce and Gruner stressed the reopening must be done safely.

“We’re certainly being very mindful, respectful from a health and safety standpoint,” Gruner said. “We really are advocating for a balance between the health risks of the territory and also stabilizing and working with the economy.”

The council was started to help the territory reopen, Bruce said, but added the she would support continuing the initiative post-pandemic. 

Gruner said with the unprecedented times, the council is facing a difficult task and it will be a learning curve for everyone involved.

“This process has never really been done before, it’s not going to be perfect,” he said.

The NWT is currently in Phase 2 of the Emerging Wisely plan, which allows outdoor tourism operators, dine-in restaurants as well as fitness classes to open with restrictions.

Members of the business advisory committee include:

  • Paul Gruner: Det’on Cho Management LP
  • Jenni Bruce: NWT Chamber of Commerce, Midwest Property Management
  • Kyle Wright: Norman Wells & District Chamber of Commerce, Northridge Contracting
  • Tim Syer: Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce, Lawson Lundell
  • Pat Rowe: Fort Simpson Chamber of Commerce, P.R. Contracting Ltd.
  • Linda Martin: Thebacha Chamber of Commerce, Thebacha Business Development Services
  • Sean Crowell: NWT Manufacturing Association, Canarctic Graphics
  • Denny Rodgers: Delta North Alliance, Beaufort Delta, Inuvialuit Development Corporation
  • Duc Trinh: NWT & Nunavut Construction Association, DT Electric
  • James Thorbourne: Delta North Alliance,Beaufort Delta, Gwich’in Development Corp.
  • Sara Brown: NWT Association of Municipalities
  • Gary Vivian: NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines, Aurora Geoscience
  • Darrell Beaulieu: NWT Indigenous Leaders Economic Coalition, Denendeh Investments Inc.
  • Harold Grinde: NWT Tourism, Gana River Outfitters
  • Donna Lee DeMarcke: Hay River Chamber of Commerce, Aurora Ford Hay River
  • Trevor Wever: Northern Air Transport Association, Air Tindi
  • Kevin Hodgins: NWT and Nunavut Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists, Association of Consulting Engineering Companies Northwest Territories and Stantec

About the Author

Luke Carroll
Luke Carroll is a journalist originally from Brockville, Ont. He has previously worked as a reporter and editor in Ottawa, Halifax and New Brunswick. Luke is a graduate of Carleton University's bachelor of journalism program. If you have a story idea, feel free to send him an email at