David Ramsay - Transportation Strategy

October 24, 2013
Ministers' Statements and Speeches

(October 24, 2013) - Mr. Speaker, holding both the transportation and economic development portfolios, I very much appreciate the strong contribution that transportation makes to a strong and prosperous Northwest Territories.  Transportation has always been at the forefront of enabling Northerners to grow and develop our economy.  Never has the role that transportation plays been more important to guaranteeing our future growth and prosperity than it is today.

Transportation infrastructure is a fundamental requirement and an enabler of economic development in the Northwest Territories.  It allows an economy to begin, grow and prosper through increased access to essential goods and services and to natural resources.  Linking communities within a region provides jobs, fosters social development and trade, and allows for social interaction.  Infrastructure improvements such as the construction of new roads and rehabilitation efforts across the system stimulate job creation and make our economy more competitive in the long term.  It also reduces the costs of freight and the cost of living in our communities.  Available and reliable modes of transportation attract private investment within an economy, and create the potential for value-added growth.  These sentiments were echoed throughout the consultation processes undertaken toward the development of the Economic Opportunities Strategy and Mineral Development Strategy  being led by the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to announce that the Department of Transportation is building upon this strategy work and embarking on a process to develop a multimodal transportation strategy for the Territory.  This strategy, which was included in our 2013-14 business plan to be completed in 2014, will guide our path forward toward a transportation system that will enable the Northwest Territories to realize its full potential.  Achieving our government’s vision of a strong and prosperous territory requires that adequate supporting infrastructure, such as the transportation system, is in place to effectively link communities to opportunities for social growth and economic prosperity.

The process to develop this strategy will be officially kicked off at the Northern Transportation Conference, being organized by the Van Horne Institute, which will occur here in Yellowknife October 29th and 30th.  The conference theme, developing a Northern Transportation Strategy, sets the tone for discussions and engagement with stakeholders, industry, transportation partners, and other levels of government on the development of the transportation strategy.

As we move forward to further development of our transportation system, continued partnerships will be critical.  Partnerships with the federal government, such as the anticipated New Building Canada Plan funding agreement, as well as partnerships with industry.

Mr. Speaker, much background work has been underway.  In June, Corridors for Canada 3 – Building for Prosperity, the Department of Transportation’s strategic infrastructure funding proposal was tabled and submitted for the federal government’s consideration under the new Building Canada Plan.  The proposal includes a $600 million investment over ten years to improve our winter roads, highways, bridges, marine and airport infrastructure.  Corridors for Canada 3 is an action plan that addresses transportation infrastructure needs across all regions of the Northwest Territories.  These investment priorities will be incorporated into the strategy.

The Department is also working to finalize a climate change adaptation plan, road safety plan, as well as studies assessing options for improved road access into the Tlicho Region.  A financing study for improved access into the Slave Geologic Province, a marine system review, and an environmental strategy, titled Green Light has also been completed.  Airport development plans as well as a runway issues and lengths study are currently being updated.  The transportation strategy will build upon and incorporate the results of this research work that has been underway.  It will also be developed with input and engagement, including all MLAs, aboriginal and community governments, transportation and industry stakeholders.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Transportation’s multi-modal transportation strategy will guide the development of our transportation system and help shape our plans, priorities and policies for the coming years.  I encourage Members, other levels of government, industry stakeholders and the public to get engaged and support the development of this important strategy as we move forward.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.