Mr. Speaker, the Department of Transportation is committed to working with public and private sector partners to continue to improve transportation infrastructure across the Northwest Territories under the Mandate of the 18th Legislative Assembly.
Our government strongly believes in working collaboratively with various levels of government, from Aboriginal and municipal authorities to the federal government, as well as with our private sector partners.
Mr. Speaker, it is important to strengthen our partnership with Canada by ensuring that the priorities and challenges of our territory are being recognized. Infrastructure improvements result in economic and social benefits for northerners and all Canadians and the Department of Transportation is committed to identifying new opportunities to increase investment in the NWT transportation system in collaboration with our federal counterparts.
Mr. Speaker, our collaboration with the federal government has allowed us to make several improvements this year to nearly every one of our highways and to several airports across the territory.
These investments wouldn’t have been possible without the New Building Canada Plan, which has given us the opportunity to invest in core transportation infrastructure to support economic growth, job creation, increased productivity, and an enhanced quality of life in communities across the NWT.
The Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway is another example of successful cooperation with our federal partners. Without Canada’s $200 million contribution, the project simply would not be happening.
With the project entering its final year of construction, an Opening Ceremony Stakeholder Working Group has been established as we work toward the opening of the highway, set for November 2017. The working group is made up of representatives from Inuvik, Tuktoyaktuk, the Inuvialuit Community Economic Development Organization, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and a number of GNWT departments.
Working with various Aboriginal governments in the territory is also a major priority for our government, and indeed, for the Department of Transportation. The Tlicho Government has consistently been a valued partner in advancing one of the strategic projects for our territory: the Tlicho all-season road. We also appreciate the relentless support provided by the Sahtu Secretariat’s Mackenzie Valley Highway Working Group helping us advocate and move forward the construction of the Wrigley to Norman Wells portion of the Mackenzie Valley Highway.
Mr. Speaker, I would also like to talk about the work that we are doing with a number of partners to improve road access into the Slave Geological Province.
A detailed analysis of optimal routing options was carried out by the Departments of Industry, Tourism and Investment and Transportation using a mapping tool developed by Aurora Geoscience Limited. As a result of this partnership, a route that will provide the greatest economic benefit has been chosen for the project. The GNWT is now assessing the P3 potential of building an all-weather road along this route through the Slave Geological Province.
The Department of Transportation is teaming up with the Departments of Finance and Industry, Tourism and Investment to develop a P3 business case assessment for the route, and we look forward to working closely with the representatives of the diamond mines to advance this project.
Mr. Speaker, our government is not only committed to building a safe, secure and efficient transportation system. We are also committed to working with our partners to study the effects of climate change on transportation infrastructure and permafrost.
This summer, we launched the second phase of the Northwest Territories Transportation Monitoring Program and extended research activities along established research sites.
For this, the Government of Canada is providing $560,700 over the next two years from the Northern Transportation Adaptation Initiative, while our government is providing the remaining amount. All told, this will amount to over $740,000 in research funding.
Mr. Speaker, I would also like to provide an update today on our government’s efforts to work with the private sector and the federal government to restore safe marine operating conditions in the Hay River Harbour.
We continue to work with the Harbour Restoration Working Group which is led by the Hay River Harbour Authority, with participation from a number of organizations, including the NWT Fishermen’s Federation, Small Craft Harbours, the Canadian Coast Guard and Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
I am pleased to announce that progress has been made on this issue. In May, the Canadian Air Force used a CP-140 surveillance aircraft to record aerial photographs over the Hay River Harbour. In June, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans conducted a technical review of harbour infrastructure. All of this information is being used to define what exactly we need to do to address the immediate safety concerns of the Harbour Authority. We will continue to work with our partners to secure federal funding for rehabilitation of this important harbour.
Mr. Speaker, the Department of Transportation is committed to strengthening connections with its partners to improve NWT transportation system to improve safety for the travelling public, lower the cost of living, adapt to the effects of climate change, and support economic opportunities.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.