Mr. Speaker, the Department of Transportation is updating its Multi-modal Transportation Strategy that will guide further development of our integrated air, road, rail, and marine systems over the next 25 years. Engaging stakeholders and the public so we understand their priorities and needs has been a critical part of the process. Later this afternoon I will table the NWT Transportation Strategy 2015-2040 Stakeholder Engagement Report summarizing what the Department of Transportation heard during the initial phase of public engagement held in the fall of 2014. The strategy will be regularly reviewed going forward to ensure it is current and reflect the needs of the Northwest Territories.
The Department used public meetings, online surveys, written surveys, a letter writing campaign, and face-to-face interviews to gather perspectives on the transportation system. We heard from stakeholders across the NWT, including Members of this Assembly, Aboriginal leaders, community leaders, residents, businesses, industry and key stakeholder organizations from the NWT and southern Canada who conduct business in our territory.
The Stakeholder Engagement Report summarizes their input and confirms the strong supporting role that transportation infrastructure continues to play in enabling economic growth for our territory and the delivery of essential services to its residents. It is clear that Northerners and stakeholders want to see further enhancement and expansion of transportation facilities and services to meet current and future needs.
Three key themes emerged during the consultation. First, we must continue to maintain and improve our existing highways, winter roads, marine and airports to enhance the level of service and improve transportation safety. Second, we must expand the transportation system into new areas of the NWT to better connect our communities and support resource development potential. Finally, we must continue to improve the way we do business by modernizing transportation policy and regulations, by better communicating with the public to improve awareness and safety, by embracing new technology, and by adapting the system to the effects of climate change.
Our next step is to prepare a draft of the transportation strategy based on feedback gathered through engagement and technical background reports. The Department will then visit each region of the NWT again in the spring of 2015 to discuss the draft strategy with residents and stakeholders.
Mr. Speaker, northerners recognize that safe and cost-effective transportation services are important to our communities and to the development of new economic opportunities in each region of the NWT. We look forward to further engagement with residents this spring.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.