Mackenzie Valley Highway

An all-weather highway through the Mackenzie Valley to the Arctic Coast has been a strategic priority for the GNWT for decades. This road will be the final link connecting our nation from coast to coast to coast and will open up countless opportunities for the people of the region. It would extend Highway 1 from Wrigley to Inuvik, where it would connect with the northernmost segment to Tuktoyaktuk.

The Sahtu region is currently served by the Mackenzie Valley Winter Road, providing a route for essential cargo during the winter months. In recent years, the winter road season has become shorter and less reliable due to climate change, and a marked increase in industrial traffic has put increased pressure on the infrastructure. This increases the need for all-weather access to the Mackenzie Valley and Arctic coast to reach the NWT’s oil and gas, minerals and metals, as well as lakes and rivers and hydroelectric power potential.

  • The Mackenzie Valley Highway would strengthen Canada’s Arctic sovereignty and expand access to communities and resources along the route. This would reduce reliance on air service and generate savings that could be used for other social or economic opportunities.

  • Canadian sovereignty will be strengthened by the Mackenzie Valley Highway, as an all-weather connection to the Arctic Coast will demonstrate the importance of the region to the nation.

  • The highway is being pursued in sections. The Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway is under construction, and planning is underway to extend the highway from Wrigley to Norman Wells. Both projects support northerners' long-term vision for the NWT transportation system. 

  • The GNWT is committed to including communities of each affected region in the development and construction of the Mackenzie Valley Highway. The Department established partnerships with land claim groups, Aboriginal governments and organizations to lead, develop, and manage the project description reports for sections of the proposed Highway Project within their regions (Dehcho, Tulita district of the Sahtu, K’ahsho Got’ine district of the Sahtu, Gwich’in Settlement Area). The reports are used to initiate the environmental assessment of the project, and provide an overview level of terrain, wildlife, vegetation and archaeology in the area where the highway and material sources are being considered. In 2012, this initiative was recognized by the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) for innovative management in engaging Aboriginal governments and the regional population in planning and consultation for the Mackenzie Valley Highway project. The consultations also included partnerships and capacity building within Aboriginal governments and at the community level.

    Information for Professionals (including the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway)

More information

Mackenzie Valley Highway Backgrounder