Mr. Speaker, the Department of Transportation has made a commitment in its mandate to restore safe operating conditions in the Port of Hay River by strengthening connections with public and private sectors partners.
The Hay River Harbour remains an essential piece of infrastructure for the NWT marine transportation system. The Harbour supports critical services such as those provided by the Canadian Coast Guard and the Department of Defence. As well, industry and communities up and down the Mackenzie River depend on the steady and reliable resupply of essential goods and materials shipped out of Hay River.
Low water caused by the buildup of sediment has long challenged navigability in the Hay River Harbour. This has had a serious impact on the safety and effectiveness of the essential marine services on which northerners rely. Commercial fishing boats often touch bottom when entering the Harbour, and Coast Guard vessels have trouble accessing their base.
That is why last year the GNWT supported the establishment of the Hay River Harbour Restoration Group, led by the harbour authority with representatives from all impacted stakeholders. The restoration group provides a forum to discuss challenges and various technical matters regarding future restoration efforts. The group most recently met in Hay River in December and decided that DOT will work with the NWT Fishermen’s Federation to develop an informal request for a quote for dredging services from local contractors.
Over the past year, DOT has worked with public and private stakeholders to advocate for project funding and to acquire the necessary information to have this important harbour dredged.
In 2016, a military surveillance aircraft recorded imagery over the Harbour and East Channel entrance. The Canadian Coast Guard also conducted sounding operations in the Hay River Harbour. The information collected during their activities is vital to determining the approximate volume of material that needs to be dredged.
Identifying funding sources for the dredging plan remains an important component of this project. We will continue to explore all possible funding options, including through the Oceans Protection Plan announced last year, and other federal programs.
Critical marine resupply operations for many communities start from the Hay River Harbour. The facility is also important to the commercial fishing industry on Great Slave Lake, which has the potential to help diversify the NWT economy. By restoring the Hay River Harbour to its maximum potential, we will continue to reduce the cost of living and provide jobs for northerners, in line with our Legislative Assembly commitments.
The Department of Transportation remains committed to working with all stakeholders to develop a reliable, long-term solution to restore the Harbour’s full and unimpeded operational capacity.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.