Robert C. McLeod: New Western Arctic Centre for Geomatics

Mr. Speaker, technology could be a game-changer for Inuvik’s economy. Due to its northern location and the frequent passes of satellites, Inuvik is becoming an attractive area for technological investment.

Inuvik is already home to the Inuvik Satellite Station Facility, with one Canadian-owned and two internationally-owned satellite antennas, and growth expected to increase in the coming years with the completion of the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Line. This state-of-the-art telecommunications link will connect the Beaufort Delta to southern Canada, and is expected to attract additional business from around the world to Inuvik.

Inuvik has the potential to become the high-tech hub of the Northwest Territories. This Government is committed to investing in infrastructure and building capacity that will lead to new partnerships, economic development and job opportunities. The new Western Arctic Centre for Geomatics is an important part of that investment.  

Mr. Speaker, the planning phase for the Centre in Inuvik is well underway, and we are working with our partners at the Aurora Research Institute to officially open next spring. Last month, three new employment opportunities for the Centre were advertised, and these positions will all be based in Inuvik. 

The Centre in Inuvik is part of the Information Shared Services Centre in the Department of Lands. Once opened, the Centre will increase the level of geomatics support for our programs and services that support land, resource and infrastructure management through remote sensing technologies, as well as economic development initiatives.

For example, satellite imagery can be used to monitor sea ice conditions for shipping channels and off-shore oil and gas exploration. It can show changes in water levels over time, providing critical information into the feasibility of hydroelectric dams. It is useful to help monitor burn severity from forest fires, and that information could help determine future reforestation patterns, including crop predictions for the morel mushroom industry.   

Staff at the Centre will work with various partners, including Aboriginal and federal governments and researchers, to coordinate remote sensing research in the Arctic and Sub-Arctic and to implement monitoring programs. Staff will also work closely with the Aurora Research Institute to enhance existing education programs and to develop educational opportunities to raise awareness about the technology industry. This is particularly important for youth in the NWT who may be considering future career opportunities and want to learn more about geomatics.

Mr. Speaker, with a flat revenue forecast for coming years and expected slow economic growth, the GNWT needs to be making efforts to contribute to growth and diversification in all communities and regions. Investments in infrastructure that will help make the NWT a more competitive and attractive place to do business is a key part of that.

The Western Arctic Centre for Geomatics is a great example of this Government’s commitment to growing other promising sectors of our economy, in addition to the resource sector, through investment in technological infrastructure and partnerships that will help to create prosperity and benefits for NWT residents.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.