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Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories has made a commitment in its mandate to capture opportunities for investment in transportation infrastructure by working to secure funding to advance the Mackenzie Valley Highway, make an all-weather road from Highway No. 3 to Whati and improve access into the Slave Geological Province. Today I would like to provide an update on the progress made by the Department on these projects, where work continues to steadily advance. The Department of Transportation believes we have a significant opportunity to move these projects ahead by securing federal funding either through Phase 2 of Canada’s long-term infrastructure plan or through P3 partnerships. The recent Canada Transportation Act Review Panel Report also recommended investing in these key strategic corridors. Infrastructure investments help us connect communities to new social and employment opportunities, reduce the cost of living in the territory, improve our resiliency against the impacts of climate change, and increase access to natural resources. Each of the three proposed NWT transportation corridors projects will help us capture these opportunities to the benefit of our residents. Mr. Speaker, the Department of Transportation continues to make steady progress in advancing the all-season road to the community of Whatì. Our government has been working in close partnership with the Tlicho Government for several years to advance this 97 kilometre road, which will provide year-round access to residents of Whatì. This road will also benefit nearby communities, by significantly increasing the length of operation of the winter roads to Wekweeti and Gameti and helping to address a key impact of climate change in this region.  Our government is also working with the Government of Nunavut on a proposed route that would extend from Yellowknife through the Slave Geological Province to Gray’s Bay in Nunavut, and have set up a joint working group to collaborate in accelerating this project in both jurisdictions. The road will also help support economic development in the region by increasing access to mineral resources and boosting investor confidence. The Tlicho All-Season Road is currently undergoing an environmental assessment by the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board. We are also awaiting a final decision from P3 Canada on our funding application for the project. The GNWT is continuing to work with the federal government to provide any additional information they require in their decision-making process. Another important project for the GNWT, Mr. Speaker, is the next section of the Mackenzie Valley Highway from Wrigley to Norman Wells. The $700 million business case for this project was submitted to the federal government under the National Infrastructure Fund of the New Building Canada Plan in 2015. The Government of Canada is currently reviewing its criteria for evaluating how to award funding for the various infrastructure projects from across Canada.  This means a temporary pause for our Mackenzie Valley Highway proposal, but it does not mean the project has been shelved. We expect the review to resume once Canada has made its decisions about new federal funding programming. We continue to work with our federal counterparts and the Sahtu Secretariat’s Mackenzie Valley Highway Working Group, and, as new information becomes available, we will keep Members updated, as I committed last week. Mr. Speaker, we have also made significant progress on developing an access road into the Slave Geological Province, with the ultimate goal of linking to all-weather road and port in Nunavut. A route has been identified that will provide the greatest economic benefit to the region and the NWT.  We are currently assessing the economic feasibility and P3 potential of building an all-weather road along this route and will continue to update Members on our progress. Finally, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that the construction of the Inuvik toTuktoyaktuk Highway continues to be on time and on budget. The highway has been under construction since 2013 and earlier this year the North and South sides of the project met for the first time, marking a significant milestone in the project.  This winter, the contractor will be entering its fourth and final season of construction, and the highway is expected to open to traffic in fall 2017. Mr. Speaker, this is an incredibly exciting time for the communities of Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk and for the Northwest Territories. The Department of Transportation has already started working with the two communities and Aboriginal governments, other GNWT departments and Infrastructure Canada to plan opening celebrations.  Events will start in early 2017, with a ceremony to mark the closure of the last winter road from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk, followed by the official ribbon cutting ceremony in November 2017, and with a tourism-focused celebration led by the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment in June of 2018. Mr. Speaker, improving the territorial transportation infrastructure will remain one of the priorities of this government, as part of our commitments to improve the quality of life and lower the cost of living of our residents, support business and employment opportunities, and maximize opportunities to realize our economic potential. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
FORT SIMPSON (October 18, 2016) – The Department of Transportation would like to advise the public that the M.V. Lafferty ferry near Fort Simpson on Highway 1 is on 72-hour notice for closure. The ferry will continue to operate during normal hours from 8:00 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. daily, with a closure possible sooner than 72 hours depending on conditions. Though water levels continue to drop, the Department hopes to keep the Lafferty operating as long as possible. The ferry will need to be closed if water levels are not high enough to safely cross the river. The M.V. Johnny Berens ferry near Wrigley on Highway 1 is operating normal hours from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily. It is strongly recommended essential movements of goods by residents be completed as soon as possible. The Johnny Berens ferry could close within a week or sooner if the conditions warrant a closure. With colder temperatures predicted and water levels continuing to recede, the ferry will need to be closed if the ice conditions and water levels are not high enough for the ferry to safely cross the river. The Department of Transportation will continue to monitor the ice conditions and water levels on a regular basis and will advise users should conditions change. The Department will attempt to update the public three days and 24 hours prior to the actual closing date, however, rapidly deteriorating conditions may not permit such notice. For More information, contact: Greg Hanna   Department of Transportation Government of the Northwest Territories 867-767-9082 ext. Follow us on Twitter at @GNWT_DOT
Yellowknife (October 14, 2016) – The Department of Transportation (DOT) is pleased to announce that it will continue to provide extended ferry service along the Dempster Highway in the Beaufort Delta Region this season. DOT will maintain the winter ferry service at both the Peel and Mackenzie River crossings this season for as long as safely possible to minimize service disruption. Media inquiries: Ioana Spiridonica Manager of Communications and Public Affairs Department of Transportation Tel: (867) -767 -9082 ext. 31042 Email:
Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories has made a commitment in its Mandate to capture opportunities for investment in transportation infrastructure by working to secure funding to advance the Tłįchǫ all-season road.  Mr. Speaker, according to Tłįchǫ Chief Alfonz Nitsiza of Whatì, the project will provide cultural strength to the Tłįchǫ people, aside from economic benefits.  This project is not only a source of future prosperity, but also a source of pride for the region.  The road has been discussed by the Tłįchǫ Government since as far back as the 1980s and their support is evident through the critical role they have played in advancing project progress.   Mr. Speaker, the Tłįchǫ Government worked in collaboration with GNWT to complete the project description report, which was submitted on March 31st to the Wek’èezhìi Land and Water Board for review and permitting.  This partnership will continue to be critical to the success of the project as both parties await a decision on next steps in the process. In the meantime, funding for the project is being sought under the P3 Canada program.  The Department has built a strong case for investment by citing the many social and economic benefits of building this road.   Transportation affects the cost of every component of household expenditure, meaning that any improvements to the transportation system help reduce the cost of living.  A year-round connection to Whatì and increased access for the communities of Gamètì and Wekweètì will provide efficiencies, including lower travel time and shipping costs, which support resupply operations and businesses in the region.  During mobilization, construction, and de-mobilization, many good paying jobs will become available to residents.  These jobs will provide skills and training that are transferrable to other industries, helping to develop a strong northern workforce. Mr. Speaker, the project will have benefits beyond just Whatì, for the NWT as a whole. Increased access will result in new opportunities to continue developing the region’s economic potential.  An all-season road would reduce exploration and development costs for industry, attracting further investment that supports a strong NWT economy.  More importantly, the road will reduce the cost of living for residents of Whatì. The construction of the road to Whatì will also increase the length of the operating season for the winter road serving the communities of Gamètì and Wekweètì.  Replacing the southern end of the existing winter road will help us deal with challenges arising from changing temperatures and precipitation.  This will contribute to reliable access throughout the region and help support the Department’s priority for a more resilient transportation system in the face of climate change.   Mr. Speaker, for all these reasons we believe our business case for federal investment in the construction of the Tłįchǫ all-season road is strong.  In February 2016, investment in this project was included among the recommendations made in the final report of the Canada Transportation Act Review.  The federal government is engaging with key stakeholders, governments, and the public across Canada to discuss the report this summer.  During this engagement process, our government will stress the importance of implementing all recommendations for investment in the NWT transportation system, including the Tłįchǫ all-season road. Mr. Speaker, as we move on to the next steps of this significant project, the GNWT is pleased to have the continued partnership of the people of the Tłįchǫ region to advance our shared visions of creating strong, prosperous, and vibrant communities. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, investments in the transportation system help to improve the safety of the travelling public, lower the cost of living, adapt to the effects of climate change, and support economic opportunities. Successful funding agreements with Canada are critical to see these projects to completion. Last summer we received federal approval for the first bundle of projects submitted under the New Building Canada Plan, creating significant opportunities to improve Northwest Territories highways.   Now, with the summer construction season upon us again, the Department of Transportation will continue to make improvements to highways and airports across the territory. Mr. Speaker, work is currently being done on nearly every NWT highway. I would like to provide a brief summary of these ongoing improvements, starting in the South and moving North. The section of Highway No. 1 between Fort Simpson and the junction with Highway No. 3 will see improvements ranging from road widening to drainage improvements and resurfacing. Highway No. 6 to Fort Resolution will also see road widening and drainage improvements, along with sub-base and base course construction. Rehabilitation to increase the structural integrity of Highway No. 7 will take place near Fort Liard. Structural strengthening, road widening, drainage, and resurfacing work will take place on Highway No. 3 between Behchoko and Yellowknife. Final work on the realigned section of Highway No. 4, including clearing the right of way, installing permanent signage, and bridge improvements will be completed this summer.  Finally, on the Dempster Highway, embankment will be widened in various sections.  In addition to this work, the 2016-2017 Federal Budget included $21.6 million in funding to pave the section of Highway No. 5 that runs through Wood Buffalo National Park. Parks Canada will be taking responsibility for the project and will identify the full scope and design. We have been in contact with Parks Canada to discuss available granular resources for the project and will assist our federal partners as required.  Mr. Speaker, all airports in the NWT are federally regulated.  Improvements to air services and airport infrastructure are mutually beneficial to both our government and the Government of Canada. The federal Airport Capital Assistance Program, or ACAP, was developed in 1995 to help regional airports pay for up to 100 per cent of the costs of projects aimed at improving safety, protecting assets, and reducing operating costs. The Department of Transportation has taken advantage of this program in the past and there are currently several projects benefitting from its funding. A total of $1.3 million has been dedicated to rehabilitating runway lighting at the airport in Tuktoyaktuk beginning in 2016-2017, to enhance operational safety and improve maintenance ability at the airport. In 2016, the Department of Transportation will also finish rehabilitating the runway lighting at the Norman Wells airport. That project received $1.4 million from ACAP, back in 2014. Finally, the Department has received $800,000 to replace the emergency response crash truck at the airport in Yellowknife. Mr. Speaker, a great deal is being done to strengthen and improve our existing transportation system. However, the list of priorities continues to grow and additional resources are required on an ongoing basis. Our government must continue to take every opportunity to highlight the infrastructure needs of our territory and work with the federal government to achieve our mutual priorities. The final report of the Canada Transportation Act Review Panel, which was released in February 2016, included a list of recommendations for federal investment in some of our top transportation infrastructure priorities, including investment in the development of three corridors, the Mackenzie Valley Highway, the Tlicho All-Season Road and access to the Slave Geological Province. This summer, the federal government is engaging with key stakeholders, governments, and the general public in all jurisdictions to talk about the findings of this report. Our government will use the opportunity to support the implementation of these important recommendations. Mr. Speaker, it is important to strengthen our partnership with Canada by ensuring that the priorities and challenges of our territory are being recognized. Our government has made significant commitments to increasing NWT transportation infrastructure, by contributing 25 per cent of the costs for projects funded under the New Building Canada Plan and delivering project management and ongoing operations and maintenance.  Infrastructure improvements provide significant economic and social benefits for NWT residents, including employment and training opportunities, reducing the cost of living in remote communities, supporting local businesses and local economies, and providing more efficient means to bring non-renewable resources to markets.  The Department of Transportation is committed to identifying new prospects to increase investment in the NWT transportation system in collaboration with our federal counterparts.     Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  

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