David Ramsay – Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway

Oct 30 2013

Dave Ramsay - Official PortraitMr. Speaker, I am pleased to update the House on the progress being made to advance the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway project.  This winter, we plan to begin constructing the final link between the NWT Highway system and the Arctic coast community of Tuktoyaktuk.  This all-weather highway will be constructed in one of Canada’s most challenging environments.

The Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway is a legacy project of this Government that will help reduce the high cost of living in our most northerly region and will assist in opening up new economic development and tourism opportunities for residents of the Inuvik Region and the Northwest Territories.

On behalf of the people of the NWT, I would like to thank the Federal Government for their funding support for this project.  Thanks to the Prime Minister’s vision of establishing Canada’s first permanent road to the Arctic Coast, and the strong support of the Members of this House, we have established a strong partnership arrangement to fund construction of this important new section of NWT highway.  The project will produce significant employment opportunities for area residents and will assist to develop new workplace skills that may be applied to future projects at other NWT locations. 

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway project is proceeding according to the plan.  We anticipate receiving the necessary water license, land use permits, and fisheries authorization to begin constructing the new highway in December 2013.

A significant amount of work had to be completed before achieving this milestone.  The Department of Transportation staff and consultants have been dedicated to the project for the last four years to produce volumes of studies, geotechnical investigations, design work, and environmental management plans.  The Department held numerous consultations with regulators, stakeholders, and co-management groups leading to commitments under 12 management plans and over 250 commitments to the Environmental Impact Review Board.

The final geometric design and the individual designs for the 68 watercourse crossing structures for the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway are complete.  These detailed designs include special innovative engineering features to preserve the sensitive permafrost in the Region and to ensure the quantity and quality in the adjacent water bodies.

Over the past year, the Department has been working successfully with a regional contracting company to begin upgrading Navy Road in Inuvik and the Source 177 access road south of Tuktoyaktuk to enable efficient construction of the highway over the next three winters.  Mr. Speaker I am pleased to report that this contracting approach has resulted in significant employment and work for many contractors and service providers in the Inuvik Region.  Over 10,500 person days of employment were secured by NWT residents.

The Department has also advanced several other initiatives to maximize oversight and stakeholder engagement on the project.  The Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Corridor Working Group will hold its first meeting on November 5 in Inuvik to discuss the first year of construction.  This Working Group consists of 12 regional and government stakeholder groups dedicated to sharing perspectives on how to improve the effectiveness of construction activities and to how to minimize adverse effects on the land, water, and wildlife.

Coordination and collaboration of efforts by government is very important in a public project of this size.  The Department is contributing to establish a Project Coordination Office in Tuktoyaktuk and partially funding a Career Development Officer in Inuvik.  It’s important that we work closely with our colleagues in the Department of Education, Culture and Employment and Aurora College to train local residents so they may participate meaningfully in this construction project and develop new skills improving their ability to secure future jobs in the NWT.  The first driver training program toward a Class 1 driver’s licence with air brakes is scheduled to begin in mid-November in Inuvik.

We are also working closely with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and regional management stakeholders to ensure wildlife and the environment are properly protected as the project is being delivered.

Mr. Speaker, as we ready ourselves to begin constructing the northern-most section of the Mackenzie Valley Highway, planning work is also moving ahead for the southern portion of the highway from Fort Good Hope to Wrigley.  We are closely monitoring the construction schedule and budget and this is on track

The Department is working closely with Aboriginal and community stakeholders along the Mackenzie Valley Corridor to ensure the planning, design, construction and operation of the permanent highway will meet the needs and expectations of NWT residents and businesses.

The Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board held public meetings in Mackenzie Valley communities in September to determine the scope of the project developers assessment report.  The Government continues to discuss the project with stakeholders throughout the Mackenzie Valley to gain valuable perspectives from the people who will be most affected by its construction.

Work is also proceeding to complete the collection of essential baseline data along the Mackenzie Valley Corridor to support and initiate the required business case for the project to leverage federal funding and meet the requirements of the project’s environmental review.

I will continue to provide Members with regular updates on our progress to advance the entire Mackenzie Valley Highway from Wrigley to Tuktoyaktuk

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.