Mr. Speaker, in June 2015 the Department of Transportation tabled our multi-modal Transportation Strategy, entitled “Connecting Us”. The Strategy defines the challenges and opportunities related to improving road, air, marine and rail services for residents, communities and businesses across the NWT over the next 25 years. I am pleased to report that the Department is implementing the updated Transportation Strategy and making substantial progress under the three key strategic initiatives: Strengthening Connections; Capturing Opportunities; and Embracing Innovation.
The Department is strengthening connections by rehabilitating sections of the existing highway system and improving air infrastructure. This work to rehabilitate highway embankments, road surfaces, and drainage structures will increase the reliability and safety of our highway system, create employment, training, and business opportunities for Northerners, and will reduce long-term maintenance costs. We have also delivered several improvements to our community airport assets, including runway repairs; installation of new runway lighting systems, and improvements to several air terminal buildings and passenger shelters.
Work continues to capture new sustainable economic opportunities for the Territories by advancing planning work and building strong business cases for three potential new all-weather highway corridors: the Mackenzie Valley Highway from Wrigley to Norman Wells; an all-season road into the Tłicho Region, and improving road access into the Slave Geological Province.
Should these new corridors advance, they will substantially improve mobility and employment opportunities for Northerners and enable public and Aboriginal governments to capture new revenues associated with sustainable economic development across the NWT. This will be a critical investment when resource activity is predicted to decline. Extension of our all-weather highway system will also increase reliability over our current public winter road system, which is challenged by the effects of climate change.
The Department continues to embrace innovation by testing new adaptation strategies for construction and maintenance of our highways and winter roads, improving our online services to residents and seeking innovative public and private sector partnerships to improve road, air, marine and rail services in the Northwest Territories.
Mr. Speaker, the Department has made significant progress since its inception 25 years ago. Despite these successes we still have substantial work to do to support our residents, businesses and visitors. By measuring our progress, we can set new and greater goals to bring our transportation system to the next level. At the appropriate time today I will table the 2015 Transportation Report Card. This document is directly linked to “Connecting Us” and provides up to date metrics and performance measures for each mode of transportation in the NWT. This will be followed by a 4-Year Action Plan tabled during the first session of each new Legislative Assembly such as the one anticipated to be held in February 2016.
I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the success of the Department of Transportation over the past 25 years. I especially want to acknowledge the dedicated work of our employees, contractors, our policing partners, federal regulators and transportation service providers who work night and day to ensure transportation services are provided across the NWT.
The next 25 years hold significant opportunity for our Territory and for the Department of Transportation to continue connecting Northerners to opportunities.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.