Canada announces $71 million for Nunavut transportation projects

Grays Bay Road and Port Project receives $21.5 million for preparatory work

Federal transport minister Marc Garneau announces $71.7 million for transportation projects in Nunavut at a press conference at the Iqaluit airport on Tuesday, Aug. 13. (Photo by Kahlan Miron)

By Emma Tranter

Four Nunavut transportation projects, including the Grays Bay Road and Port Project, will receive $71.7 million in total federal funding.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau, along with David Akeeagok, Nunavut’s economic development and transportation minister, announced the funding on Tuesday, Aug. 13, at a news conference at Iqaluit’s airport.

All four projects are funded through Canada’s National Trade Corridors Fund, a federal program that territorial and municipal governments, Indigenous groups, non-profits and more were invited to submit proposals to.

A northern call for proposals was put out in November 2018 and closed in March 2019.

The biggest item, proposed by the Government of Nunavut, is $45.5 million to expand the capacity of the Rankin Inlet airport terminal building to more than four times its current size.

To do this, two wings will be added to the existing terminal, Garneau said.

Akeeagok said if all goes well, the renovations will be completed in six years.

Another $21.5 million will be used to complete preparatory work on the Grays Bay Road and Port project, a proposed 230-kilometre all-season road that would eventually be part of a road connecting Nunavut to the Northwest Territories and, therefore, the rest of Canada.

That proposal was put forward by the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, Akeeagok said.

The preparatory work will consist of “field studies, including geological investigation, preliminary and detailed design, environmental assessment, as well as permitting and approvals needed before the construction of the Grays Bay Road and Port project can begin,” Garneau said.

The road would run from the site of the now-defunct Jericho diamond mine, which is located at the northern end of the Tibbit-Contwoyto winter road, to a deep-sea port at Grays Bay on Coronation Gulf.

Another $4.5 million will go toward the study and design of a 450-kilometre all-weather road that will help connect communities in the Kivalliq region.

“This will determine whether it’s a go or not a go…. We need to look at it first before we make a determination of going forward,” Akeeagok said.

The potential road, proposed by the GN, would help connect Arviat, Chesterfield Inlet, Rankin Inlet, Whale Cove and Naujaat, Akeeagok said.

“The 450-kilometre road would improve access for inland communities who currently rely on air transportation alone for goods and services,” Garneau said.

“The road would give Kivalliq communities improved access to the Rankin Inlet airport and the cargo ships that deliver supplies to the region,” he added.

When asked how long the study would take, Garneau did not have the details in front of him, but said he thought it would take a year or two.

The Government of Nunavut will also contribute 25 per cent of the funding to the Rankin Inlet airport expansion and the Kivalliq road study, Akeeagok said.

Garneau also announced the approval of Calm Air’s submission to the National Trade Corridors Fund, which will invest $195,000 to install boarding ramps for persons with disabilities at airport terminals in seven Nunavut communities.

Those communities are Arviat, Whale Cove, Chesterfield Inlet, Baker Lake, Naujaat, Coral Harbour and Sanikiluaq.

“These ramps will improve passenger safety and increase accessibility for disabled persons,” Garneau said.

Garneau said the projects are estimated to create a total of 200 jobs during pre-construction and construction.

“Transportation is a lifeline for northern communities and we recognize that,” Garneau said.

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(20) Comments:

  1. Posted by Really on

    Canada’s gift to China.

  2. Posted by Charlie on

    Please, please, please – connect Nunavut by *road* to southern Canada (and therefore the USA).

    As a long time admirer of Inuit culture, geography and wildlife, if you would give me a way to drive to the tundra for photo expeditions, I’d be there in a heartbeat.

    I imagine that allowing road traffic to bring goods closer to places like Kuujjuaq would have to lower costs for residents – and would result in shorter barge trips for those on Baffin Is and other less accessible locales.

    I’d also bet that you’ll have an increase in tourism. Not just from hunters (which need to be managed), but people like me who love the culture, land and wildlife.

    Aurora tours, wildlife tours, cultural tours, whale, walrus, polar bear, narwhal tours and even iceberg tours – I’ll bet that there’s a lot you could do that would bring income and a better respect for the Inuit and your traditions.

    I’ll be the first one there!

    • Posted by Oli on

      The road will only connect to an ice road in the NWT, therefore will only be useful in the winter months.

      There is a road to Tuktoyuktuk recently built that is getting a lot of traffic from visitors around the world: The Inuvik – Tuk Highway at the Northern end of the Dempster.

      • Posted by Charlie on

        I have been hearing talk for the last several years that there’s a proposal to extend the road from Chisasibi to Kuujjuarapik. As far as I know, that has gone nowhere.

        I can’t believe that I’m alone in saying that I’d love to spend time out on the tundra. The land is so beautiful – and so is the wildlife. That treeline is only about 60-ish miles north of Chisasibi / Raddison.

        Flights from Boston (my nearest airport) are over $2,100 USD, which makes travel prohibitively expensive for many – and certainly stifles most tourism.

        I’d also love to contribute something to the local economy by bringing tourists to learn about the culture, see the land and animals.

        As a US citizen, it’s not my place to tell anyone how to do anything – but I think there are real missed opportunities for tourism in Nunavut.

  3. Posted by Paul Murphy on

    “The biggest item, proposed by the Government of Nunavut, is $45.5 million to expand the capacity of the Rankin Inlet airport terminal building to more than four times its current size.
    To do this, two wings will be added to the existing terminal, Garneau said.
    Akeeagok said if all goes well, the renovations will be completed in six years.”

    SIX years to build an extension?? Better get the cash now because Garneau won’t be here in 4 months. Give me a break please. Just plain old election promises to be unkept.

    • Posted by Great Sage, Equal to Heaven on

      Patience, grasshopper.

      Leona didn’t drop off a big bundle of cash for the Iqaluit port the day before the writ was dropped in 2015. That’s just how this works. Liberals or Conservatives will honour these commitments… the others I’m less sure.

  4. Posted by Dushyenth Ganesan on

    Calm Air deserves recognition for taking the initiative to get wheel chair accessible ramps installed at community airports !!

    • Posted by Credit Due on

      True, they do.

      Canadian North/First Air need to take ownership of this issue as well.

  5. Posted by Tommy on

    Canada likes to keep Nunavut at its’ toes by investing once in a while, especially in a electon year. Basically, it is called bribery. There should’ve been a highway in Nunavut long, long time ago. But..

    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      Grays Bay won’t be a highway it won’t even be connected to Yellowknife year round (ice road connections only) so if anyone actually believes the KitIA’s blather about this road providing any benefit to the residents of the Kitikmeot I have a really nice bridge I would like to sell you.

      • Posted by Highway to nowhere on

        Plus the ice road in NWT is closed to the public (privately owned by the mining corps), and there is almost no way they would open it up for the public unless it gets transferred to the Territory which is unlikely.

        Next, if they were to give access to Kugluktuk, it would still require nearly 100 miles of ice road between Grays Bay and Kugluktuk, which nobody will want to fit the bill for.

        • Posted by Putuguk on

          Please inform yourself before commenting. The public has access the Tibbett to Contwoyto winter road. As far as I am aware, this has always been the case. For example, Nunavut outpost camp owners and other non-industry users have benefited from this road for decades.

  6. Posted by Nunavumiut on

    Please. Another election year, uttered promises that will not be kept.
    Nunavut is a part of Canada, connect Nunavut to the rest of the country already. Airline services are a big joke, enough of keeping Nunavut segregated! Sad that Nunavut is one big monopoly and those that benefit most from it do not want to see changes to improve the quality of life in the territory.

  7. Posted by Justin Trud-no on

    Kitikmeot: Offer some type of hope on a project that was previously rejected by the feds (Grays Bay Rd.) — CHECK

    Kivalliq: Offer the hope of a road proposal that has also been previously rejected AND the hope that the horrible excuse for an Airport Terminal in Rankin will eventually be upgraded — CHECK

    And Baffin: With Justin’s visit earlier this month, promising money for housing and conservation

    …All this two months before an election. Making sure he can give some sort of hope to Nunavummiut in all corners of the territory.

  8. Posted by Gobble Gobble on

    Oh man. I remember years back talking about how Gray’s Bay should take a back seat to connecting the western Hudson Bay communities. I don’t understand why they’ve included Naujaat but not Baker Lake, I feel like that’s a mistake as Chester to Naujaat on a straight line is over 400km while they say the total road would be 450km.
    I think you just start simple, and connect Whale Cove to Rankin. See how that goes, the costs, etc. After that, look at Chester to Rankin, or Whale Cove to Arviat. Eventually, you want to be looking at Chester-Rankin-Whale Cove-Arviat-Churchill.
    The benefits for those communities in terms of accessibility to each other and to the South (real road/rail for Churchill would be nice, Manitoba) could be great. Shared cargo alone, which could be transported between each other using roads instead of flights, would be amazing.

  9. Posted by Putuguk on

    Congratulations to KIA for getting Grays Bay past another important milestone, and also to the Kivalliq in moving their road plans forward. These are critical projects to achieve prosperity in our regions for decades to come.

    I think our friends and cousins on the “Island” need to keep up with current affairs.

    GNWT has been working hard to connect to Grays Bay and in all probability will have the NWT road system to the Nunavut border before earth is moved up here.

    As this road system will come right out of their capital city and would prolong diamond mining, you can well imagine how big the incentive is for them to get this done. Just as they actually did for the road to Tuk and more recently the Tli-Cho.

    In March, GNWT received $5.1M in federal funding to move their effort forward:

    Interestingly, GNWT analysis shows that just their portion of the road to the coast will deliver around $36M in taxes to the GN over 20 years from induced development. Of course, an actual road within Nunavut would provide an order of magnitude higher benefit to the whole Territory.

    • Posted by Gobble Gobble on

      I certainly hope that an investment of $500,000,000 would provide an order of magnitude higher than $1,800,000 per year to Nunavut. Because that’s nothing.

  10. Posted by Paul Murphy on

    I wonder if Garneau can explain why he needed a DOT Dash 7 to come to Iqaluit to make his election promise. They just amalgamated two major airlines. Could he not get on the sched with the rest of us peons?

  11. Posted by Northern Guy on

    A road is only a road if it connects two places permanently. Grays Bay is a road to nowhere and offers no such certainty. It is reliant on the continued development and maintenance of ice roads that are all within the purview of the GNWT and maintaining those roads only make sense for the GNWT so long as Ekati and Diavik remain in operation, What happens when one of both of those mines close down? What happens when climate change no longer makes constructing a safe and reliable ice road realistic? Where will the oft-touted community benefits of this so called road be then? Lets face it this road will only enrich a few select beneficiaries like Min Metals and the KitIA. In the end the Kitikmeot communities will see little to no benefit from this investment. The Liberals should have known this and simply said “no”.

    • Posted by Putuguk on

      Kogloktoakyok, or Grays Bay, is somewhere. It has a rich land use history. It is the site of a wonderful old Outpost Camp, amazing scenery, and fairly abundant natural resources. But you are right, there is no community there. This is something the planners of this road have to come to grips with. Anywhere in the world where there is a transportation nexus – port to road, rail, canals, runways or otherwise – people over time will settle. Nunavut is way more than the 25 communities where people are today gathered. There is no economy in our hamlets that got their start from by-gone activities such as whaling, trapping, or the military. In effect, our Hamlets are like dead single industry towns in the south where instead of people abandoning the place, we had no-where else to go and therefore ended up staying. In the long run, there are good reasons why Kogloktoakyok could become a community where Inuit who have traditionally used that land move to live and work. I hope this aspect is looked at.

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