Mr. Speaker, this Legislative Assembly has a vision of strong individuals, families and communities sharing the benefits and responsibilities of a unified, environmentally sustainable and prosperous Northwest Territories. Achieving that vision requires a balanced approach that advances our economic, environmental and social priorities. This government is moving forward on all those fronts.
I would like to take a few moments to speak to the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link project. On January 12, 2015 the government took the first step towards removing the limitations of our current communications infrastructure. This project will enable our government to improve our programs and services, particularly in the areas of education and health; and allow many more our residents and businesses to join the 21st century and communicate in real time, with the rest of the world.
Mr. Speaker, the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link project was a shared vision of the 17th Legislative Assembly that has become a reality.
We presently are just over a month into the construction of the project and I am proud to say the construction activities are taking place in the Deh Cho, the Tulita District, the K’ahsho Got’ine, and the Gwich’in Settlement Area. Some highlights:
• Over 187KM of cable has been installed;
• The project has employed 40 local residents. This does not include residents supporting the project by providing camp and catering services; and
• A directional drilling program was successfully and safely completed at the Great Bear River crossing. Future directional drills are also planned at the Liard and Mackenzie River crossings.
Mr. Speaker, since construction commenced, we have experienced increased interest, nationally and internationally, in the growth of the Inuvik Satellite Station Facility. Since its official inauguration in 2010, a total of three 14 metre receiving antennas have been installed on site. Soon we will see the construction of a fourth antenna at the site and continue to have discussions with other potential users.
In order to obtain a better understanding of how growing the Inuvik Satellite Facility can support construction of a fibre optic line up the Mackenzie Valley, the Government of the Northwest Territories has undertaken two missions to Europe. The initial mission was led by then Premier Roland, and in May 2013 I led a delegation to Kiruna, Sweden where the Swedish Space Corporation operates one of the largest satellite ground stations in the world.
We have saw first-hand the significant positive benefits the satellite ground station and remote sensing industry have not only on the economy of Kiruna, but also the important role they play in facilitating advanced learning at the Institute of Space Physics. The potential impact of an expanded satellite ground station in Inuvik on the Aurora Research Centre is significant and could make this facility one of the “the places to be” to conduct space-based Arctic research.
Mr. Speaker, I intend to lead a delegation to Europe in June 2015 to visit selected European Space Agencies to further promote both the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link and the Inuvik Satellite Station Facility.
I would like to conclude my statement by thanking the efforts and support from our residents, businesses and the leadership throughout the communities of the Mackenzie Valley to ensure the continued success of the project.
I also want to thank all my colleagues of this Assembly for their support in advancing the project.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.