J. Michael Miltenberger: Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link Progress

May 29 2015

Mr. Speaker I would like to take a few moments to speak to the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link project or MVFL.

On January 12, 2015 the Government took the first step towards removing the limitations of our current communications infrastructure. The Fibre Link project will allow Inuvik to become a global remote sensing site, enable our Government to improve our programs and services, particularly in the areas of education and health; and allow many more of our residents and businesses to join the 21st century and communicate in real time, with the rest of the world.

Mr. Speaker, the first winter construction season of the MVFL project has concluded with over 430 km of fibre optic cable installed. Though this construction season faced some initial challenges, it was successful with just over one third of the route completed. The project remains on time, on budget, with a startup date of the second quarter of 2016.

Winter construction activity took place between Tulita and Inuvik and employed approximately 112 local residents and used over 21 local contractors and suppliers. With the economic challenges facing the many of our Sahtu and Gwich’in communities, this past winter I am happy to report the Fibre Link project was able to contribute to the local economy in these communities.

Mr. Speaker, the summer build between McGill Lake and Wrigley is set to begin in late June. The MVFL Project Team is eager to being summer work and will continue engaging local residents and businesses on project progress over the coming weeks and months.

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. An additional dish has been committed for this summer; with the site preparation work for the installation is currently underway. A fifth dish is being planned for summer/spring 2016.

The Premier Robert R. McLeod, the Honourable Robert C. McLeod, Mr. Robert Hawkins, MLA from Yellowknife Centre, and myself will be travelling to Europe in June with officials from the Federal Government to continue to promote the Fibre Link project and increase utilization of the Inuvik Satellite Station Facility.

We have seen first-hand the significant positive benefits the satellite ground station and remote sensing industry have had not only on the economy of Kiruna, Sweden, 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.

I would like to conclude my statement by thanking the sustained efforts and support from our residents, businesses and community leadership throughout 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.