Federal Transportation Minister Announces Highway Funds

NWT MP Michael McLeod and Transport Minster Marc Garneau with Sahtu Land Corporation Presidents and SSI Chair Ethel Blondin-Andrew. (Photo Courtesy of Sahtu Secretariat)

After a quick visit to Whati Federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau announced funds for all three territories under the National Trade Corridor Fund.

Leaders from the Sahtu hope some of those dollars will be for the Mackenzie Valley Highway.

Sahtu Secretariat Chair Ethel Blondin Andrew says their pitch for the Highway follows the 2014 SSI Resolution to get the 321 kilometres stretch from Norman Wells to Wrigley built.

“We want to make sure no matter what we build, whether it’s a road or a bridge that the maximum amount of money stays in the North. And that the people work on it are from the North, and the people trained are from the North or the Sahtu in this case.,” Blondin-Andrew told CKLB on Monday.

The Sahtu is supporting the GNWT’s application to Canada for the estimated 700 million dollar project.

The 11 year funds announced by Garneau on Monday is only 400 million dollars, which is to be split between the NWT, Nunavut and Yukon.

“If they fulfill the criteria we’ll ask for more detailed proposals with more details and refined costs. The Government of Canada if a project is chosen will provide up to 75 per cent of the funding, which is more than the rest of Canada recognizing costs are more here in the Territories,” added Garneau

Another stretch of road pitched by the Sahtu as “Plan B” is connecting Norman Wells to Tulita, and completing the Bear River Bridge. The estimated price tag for this portion of road is 225 million dollars.

Fort Good Hope Metis Land Corporation President Charles McNeely says the highway is needed to create more opportunities for youth in his community.

“We tried to start up training projects in our community too. We want to build an access road to our fresh water, so we are in full support of the highway,” McNelly told CKLB after meeting with Garneau.

The Mackenzie Valley Highway will be competing for federal funds against projects like the Grays Bay Road and Port being proposed in Nunavut.

And while that project is raising concerns for Caribou, it is being backed by the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, Senator Dennis Patterson, and former Newfoundland Premier and BMO executive Brian Tobin.

Canada is accepting expressions of interest until September 5th.

About the Author

Josh Campbell
Josh Campbell has returned to the CKLB News Team. He covered female university soccer and volleyball in New Brunswick, prior to graduating from Loyalist College in Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ontario in 2007. He's covered politics and Indigenous stories in both the NWT and Yukon over the last 10 years.

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