The Northern Village of Île-à-la-Crosse is being recognized for innovation and excellence as a municipal government.
It was recently announced the village would be receiving a Saskatchewan Municipal Award for its work establishing the Île-à-la-Crosse Fish Processing and Packaging Facility to provide employment and training opportunities, as well as promote economic growth. The plant operates as a partnership between the village’s economic arm, Sakitawak Development Corporation, and the Big Island Fisheries Cooperatives.
“The fishing industry has always been part of our community of Île-à-la-Crosse and the North,” Deputy-Mayor Gerald Roy said. “We’re certainly garnering a lot of interest across the province, as well as Manitoba and Alberta.”
Officially opened in 2017 at the cost of $2.1 million, Roy noted the new Canadian Food Inspection Agency certified plant replaced a 2,500-square-foot building used strictly for packing. As the product was leaving the community whole, he added there was no value being added to it, which is why the decision was made to expand into a new space. The current plant employees between 20-25 people, Roy said, along with about 200 fishermen who could be on the lake at any given time.
As a winter fishery, Roy said the company has had success working with the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation. This past summer the corporation was able to send shipment of product from Lake Winnipeg to the Île-à-la-Crosse plant, which kept employees working throughout the year.
“Our northern communities and individuals have to celebrate their successes and they have to let communities, governments and others outside the North know we are a progressive and productive part of the province,” Roy said. “It's important northerners know if we put our hearts and minds to something anything can be accomplished.”
While Île-à-la-Crosse placed third in the competition, the top award went to Moosomin for establishing the Moosomin Nutrien Sportsplex. Melfort’s Wellness Centre was the runner up. The awards will officially be distributed at the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association’s annual convention in February 2019.
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