MLAs call for better highway safety with increased cell coverage, lower speed limits

The Tłı̨chǫ Government says there were "at least six fatalities" on Highway 3 in 2020.

Diane Archie, minister of Infrastructure, addresses the safety concerns surrounding Highway 3.

Frieda Martselos wants to take advantage of the progress fellow MLA Jackson Lafferty has made in working towards safer highways in the NWT.

Martselos wants the territorial government to extend cellular coverage along Highway 5.

Lafferty has long called for cellular coverage along Highway 3.

Caroline Wawzonek, minister of Finance, is in charge of connectivity in the NWT. She said the department is currently gathering costs for extending cell coverage along Highway 3.

“It’s my hope that, with that information, we will be able to look more broadly at other highways,” she said.

Martselos pushed to have that service extended to Highway 5 as well within the life of this government.

“I cannot make that commitment at this point,” said Wawzonek.  “It’s not lost on me, the aspect of safety, and it’s not lost on me the costs or the fact that we are behind coverage compared to the rest of Canada.”

Changing speed limits?

Following the passing of Kelly Washie, who was struck by a transport truck at the end of December, Lafferty is also now pushing to either lower speed limits along Highway 3 or for better enforcement.

“We will have to consult with the general public and the transportation industry and get their thoughts on this matter,” said Diane Archie, minister of Infrastructure. “It is a possibility that reduced speed limits could alleviate some of the tragedies and accidents along the highway. It will have to be a coordinated safety campaign that would make the highways safer. I can commit to having some of this work done and getting back to the Assembly.”

For its part, the Tłı̨chǫ Government recently hosted a meeting between leaders and representatives from several organizations including the RCMP, transport and retail companies, the mining sector and the telecommunications sector.

Participants proposed creating awareness campaigns around safe driving, improving signage along Highway 3, and opening up communications between governments and the private sector on highway safety.

The Tłı̨chǫ Government says there were “at least six fatalities” on the highway between Bechoko and Yellowknife in 2020.

About the Author

Francis Tessier-Burns
Francis has been a general news reporter with CKLB since January 2019. Originally from rural Ontario, he first came to the NWT in 2016 as an intern with Up Here magazine and fell in love with the North. In his time with CKLB, he's had the immense pleasure and honour of learning about northern Indigenous cultures. Otherwise, you can find him hanging around the Legislative Assembly. If you have a story or want to chat, reach out to