Transportation

About DOT 

Goals

  1. The NWT transportation system continues to improve.
  2. The NWT has an ongoing high level of Northern business and employment opportunities in the public
    and private transportation sectors.
  3. The NWT has a safe and secure transportation system in all modes.
  4. The department has a high performance workplace that is adaptable, effective, efficient and innovative in delivering programs and services.
  5. The department will continue to ensure that the high quality of the NWT environment is maintained.
  6. The department supports local transportation infrastructure.

Operating Environment

  • Demand from industry and the public is increasing for new roads, improved all-weather and winter roads, and airport runway extensions to support development, inter-community travel, and a reduced cost of living in communities across the NWT. In recent years, the federal government allocated a large amount of infrastructure funding under various programs including the Canadian Strategic Investment Fund and the Building Canada Plan. The GNWT also invested in transportation infrastructure through the Reducing the Cost of Living Strategic Initiative. As these programs sunset, the Department must explore new partnership opportunities and financing alternatives for capital project delivery. 

Sustaining an Under-Developed and Aging Transportation System

  • The department is challenged by the need to upgrade substandard transportation infrastructure and to rehabilitate and replace aging infrastructure with limited resources. Much of the existing infrastructure in the NWT was built to the standards of the day and now requires extensive investments to maintain operability and reliability. Major culverts, bridge structures, and maintenance buildings are reaching the end of their lifecycles and must be rehabilitated or replaced.
  • Investments are also required to replace chipsealed sections of the highway that have reached the end of their service lives (typically 5 to 7 years). If chipsealed sections are not resurfaced, then they must be  returned to gravel to maintain safety.

Expanding the System to Connect Communities and Enable Development

  • Expansion of the Northwest Territories’ transportation system will facilitate the diversification of the NWT economy and improve the quality of life for residents who will gain increased access to essential services, economic opportunities, increased mobility, and a reduced cost of living.
  • The NWT has enormous potential to increase economic growth through enabling non-renewable resource development. The vast mineral potential alone is consistently ranked by mining companies surveyed by the Fraser Institute as one of the highest in North America, yet the NWT continues to have insufficient infrastructure required to achieve full potential.


Accommodating Increasing Regulatory Requirements

  • The department is subject to an increase in regulatory requirements aimed at protecting the environment and ensuring public safety within the transportation system. In addition to territorial standards, the Department must comply with federal transportation safety, security, and environmental regulations.
  • These regulations add increased monitoring and reporting responsibilities to staff workloads, driving the
    need for additional resources to meet required efforts.


Adapting to Climate Change

  • The NWT transportation system is vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The operating season for
    winter roads and ice crossings rely on ice, snow, and cold temperatures. Over the pasts 20 years, the trend to warmer than normal temperatures has delayed the opening of ice bridges, reduced the operating
    window of the winter road system, increased O&M costs, increased the use of consumables such as sand
    and salt, and has led to increased variability and unreliability within the transportation system.
  • Permafrost degradation increases the cost of operation and maintenance and accelerates the need for
    capital rehabilitation. Pressure is increasing to adapt to the effects of climate change by improving surface and drainage conditions on highways and airport runways, realigning winter roads to overland right-of-ways, and building permanent bridges to extend and stabilize the winter road seasons. 


Addressing Human Resource Pressures 

  • A healthy, productive, and sustainable workforce is essential to meet the Department goals and objectives. Age-related attrition is a significant challenge for the Department with 43 percent of the current workforce over the age of fifty. 29 percent oft he Department staff is eligible to change due to age-related attrition within the next four years. This is especially critical when examining the workforce by the type of position. Between 38 and 45 percent of middle and senior managers, engineers, technologists and service personnel are eligible to retire within the next ten years.