Mr. Speaker, making strategic infrastructure investments that connect communities, expand the economy, and reduce the cost of living is a priority of this government. Infrastructure projects bring skills, training, and economic opportunities to our communities and their residents. Infrastructure plays a very important role in the longevity and health of the people of the Northwest Territories.
Mr. Speaker, during the last Assembly, the government completed work on the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway with the grand opening occurring just two years ago. This award winning project has had a huge impact on the region, helping to connect communities and increase the tourism potential of the Beaufort Delta. This past September, construction began on another new highway project: the Tłı̨chǫ All-Season Road and today I am happy to provide Members with an update.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that work on the Tłı̨chǫ All-Season Road is both ahead of schedule and on-budget. As of December, embankment construction had been completed for the first 36 kilometres, along with a number of culverts and drainage ditches. The project is scheduled for substantial completion by November 2021, and final completion in the fall of 2022.
When the Tłı̨chǫ All-Season Road opens, this two-lane gravel highway will cover a distance of 97 kilometres and provide year-round access from Highway number 3 to Whatı̀. This project will help to connect communities; support employment and training opportunities; increase our territory’s resiliency to climate change; and create new social and economic opportunities.
Already, we are seeing the benefits this project is having for our residents and communities. By December 2019, close to six thousand hours of cumulative training had already taken place through the Tłı̨chǫ Resident Training program. This includes training in job readiness, heavy equipment operation, camp cooking, and first aid.
As well, as of December 2019, 137 workers were working on site. Nearly half of these workers are Northwest Territories’ residents, including 35 per cent who are Tłı̨chǫ Citizens. Approximately 40 per cent of business contracts for this project have also gone to Northern businesses.
Mr. Speaker, the GNWT is working closely with the Tłı̨chǫ Government on this project. The Tłı̨chǫ Government is an equity partner in North Star Infrastructure, with whom the GNWT has a Public-Private Partnership, or P3, Project Agreement to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the road. As demonstrated through projects such as the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link, P3s can be a successful way to advance major projects while achieving the best value for money for the government and taxpayers.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that in November, the Tłı̨chǫ All-Season Road was one of five projects to be recognized by the prestigious Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships.
As one of the first P3s in North America with an Indigenous government holding a cash-funded equity stake, the project won gold in the National Awards for Innovation and Excellence in Public-Private Partnerships.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate our P3 Partners, both the Tłı̨chǫ Government, and Kiewit Canada Development Company, on this significant achievement.
Mr. Speaker, investing in public infrastructure is a core responsibility of government that benefits our residents and supports economic development across the territory.
In the long-term, the Tłı̨chǫ All-Season Road is expected to reduce the cost of living for the region and support new social opportunities, while helping to attract additional interest from industry in the exploration and development of natural resources.
This highway continues to be a priority for the GNWT and the Tłı̨chǫ. I will continue to provide updates as we progress through the project timelines and look forward to the day when our residents can drive to and from Whatı̀ all year round, not just during the winter.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.