Department of Transportation

Oct 23 2012

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to congratulate the Department of Transportation for receiving the Silver Award for Innovation from the Institute of Public Administrators of Canada.

Every year, the institute recognizes world-class innovators for improving public service in Canada. This year, the Department of Transportation is nationally recognized as one of these innovators. This prestigious award acknowledges the hard work of many individuals and provides an opportunity to share the influence of their good ideas with the rest of Canada.

Mr. Speaker, the award recognizes the Department’s innovative Aboriginal engagement process for planning major infrastructure projects. The Department of Transportation, led by Mr. Jim Stevens has been using an inclusive partnership approach for planning the Mackenzie Valley All-weather Highway from Wrigley to Tuktoyaktuk.

We established partnerships with Aboriginal land claim organizations to lead, develop, and manage the Project Description Reports for sections of the Mackenzie Valley Highway within their regions. Taking the lead role allowed regional and community leaders and residents to select their own project management structure; contracting and payment processes, and consultation methodology and schedule.

The four completed project description reports are being combined into one document that will form the basis of a submission to the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board. Completing the work now allows us to begin considering the next stage of activities required to support a future environmental assessment. We know there will be geotechnical investigations, surveys, consultations, and studies into fisheries, vegetation, wildlife, archaeology, terrain, permafrost, and hydrology. Aboriginal land claim organizations will continue to be involved in these activities.

Mr. Speaker, the inclusive engagement strategy between the Department of Transportation and Aboriginal governments is essential for building a strong and sustainable future for our territory.  This approach reflects the GNWT’s commitment to building strong working relationships with Aboriginal governments as stated in Respect, Recognition, Responsibility, our strategy for engaging with Aboriginal governments. It ensures Aboriginal views and values are incorporated when planning major infrastructure.

It has led to lasting relationships built on mutual trust and respect and also resulted in a common voice and demonstration of support for the Mackenzie Valley All-weather Highway, a significant step toward achieving the goals and priorities established by the 17th Legislative Assembly. The Department will continue to cultivate these successful partnerships to advance an aspiration that Northerners have held for decades: a highway connecting the rest of Canada to the Arctic coast.

Mr. Speaker, let us congratulate staff and our Aboriginal partners for their accomplishments and the wealth of possibilities resulting from hard work and cooperation.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker