Diane Archie: Update on Winter Road Season and Community Fuel Resupply

Ministers' Statements and Speeches

Yellowknife — March 31, 2021

Check against delivery

Mr. Speaker, one of the priorities of our government is to make strategic infrastructure investments that connect communities, expand the economy, and reduce the cost of living.  There are a number of initiatives being undertaken to support this priority, and one of those is to continue to seek ways to advance the construction of all-season roads such as the Mackenzie Valley Highway and the Tłı̨chǫ Highway.

Mr. Speaker, investments in all-season roads take time and money. Our government will continue to pursue these projects, but in the meantime, winter roads remain an essential part of the Northwest Territories’ transportation system. Communities across the North rely heavily on these roads to ensure the movement of goods and people during colder months.

Today, I am pleased to provide an update on the 2021 winter road season and fuel resupply activities.

Every year, highway crews in the Beaufort Delta, Sahtu, Deh Cho and North Slave regions build and maintain 1,469 kilometres of winter roads, ice roads and ice crossing, connecting 11 communities that are not served by our all-season roads.

The NWT’s short winter-road season is critical, as our winter roads are the primary way essential goods are delivered to remote communities. This access helps to diversify the NWT economy, allows businesses to be more competitive, and lowers costs for northern residents. I would like to personally thank our highway crews across the territory for their hard work and dedication to opening and maintaining winter roads this past year, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. These crews overcame fluctuating temperatures and other impacts of climate change to get our winter roads operating and in some cases, earlier than average opening dates.

To enhance the level of service on some of our winter roads, our government has also formed partnerships with the private sector. Specifically, we have an agreement with Enbridge Pipelines in which the company provides funding to the GNWT to accelerate the construction of the Tulita and Wrigley ice crossings on Highway No. 1 to support the movement of equipment.

Mr. Speaker, our government understands the importance of essential goods, such as fuel, for residents and businesses in northern communities. Many communities rely heavily on diesel and gasoline for electricity generation, heating, and transportation.

The GNWT is responsible for the purchase, transport, and storage of fuel for 16 communities in the Northwest Territories that are not served by the private sector. Local contractors then sell and distribute these petroleum products to residents and businesses.

Despite the challenge of COVID-19, residents can rest assured that the GNWT will continue to deliver fuel while taking every precaution necessary to protect our communities. Our staff and contractors have put rigorous safety measures in place to minimize risks related to COVID, while following the orders and recommendations of the NWT Chief Public Health Officer.

This winter, the GNWT’s first fuel delivery took place on February 1. It is expected that fuel resupply will be completed by mid-April, with a total of 7.5 million litres of fuel delivered to seven communities.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the staff and contractors for keeping our communities connected safely, efficiently and reliably. Our government will continue to work with our public and private sector partners to maintain dependable supply of goods and services to our communities, while identifying opportunities to improve our operations and infrastructure.

Quyanainni, Mr. Speaker.