Kivalliq residents to have their say on possible road through region
Mayors cite emergency, weather concerns; see potential benefits as well
Government of Nunavut representatives will visit five Kivalliq communities starting over the next two weeks as part of a study looking at possibly linking them all by road.
The project would connect Chesterfield Inlet, Rankin Inlet, Whale Cove and Arviat to a 725-kilometre road. A separate 320-kilometre route inland to Baker Lake is also in the plans.
The idea is not new. Various proposals have been discussed for well over a decade.
With community engagement sessions planned over the coming two weeks, two Kivalliq mayors say they are interested but also have questions.
“It’s absolutely hard to think how it would be here… We have [some] of the worst storms of almost anywhere,” said Rankin Inlet Mayor Harry Towtongie in an interview.
“If somebody gets stuck out there, it could be a real problem getting a hold of them and finding them.”
Arviat Mayor Joe Savikataaq Jr. also raised concerns about weather and safety, especially when blizzards can last several days.
He said winter road maintenance could also be expensive.
Savikataaq said his community would more likely benefit from a road south to Manitoba, which could reduce reliance on the sealift.
“I think it would be more beneficial if we get connected to the south instead,” he said.
Both mayors said they could also see benefits to building the road, which could reduce reliance on air travel to get from one place to another.
Construction could create jobs in the region, Towtongie added.
Both mayors said they’re encouraging community members to attend the local engagement sessions so they can learn and share their thoughts.
“I have a lot of questions,” Towtongie said.
“The information that we’re going to get is hopefully going to help figure some of this stuff right off the bat, but I’m sure they have a lot of work ahead of them.”
Last year, Minister of Economic Development and Transportation David Akeeagok told the legislative assembly a study of the project was underway.
“One of the key deliverables of the study is to determine the cost for the construction of the road, which will be published in the final report,” said Weichien Chan, spokesperson for the Department of Economic Development and Transportation, in an email to Nunatsiaq News.
“We expect to complete the study by fall of 2024.”
Chan said the GN budgeted $2 million for this part of the project, with Transport Canada’s National Trade Corridors Fund covering 75 per cent of the cost.
Here is a schedule of the community engagement sessions:
- Arviat: Jan. 30 at 6 p.m., community hall;
- Baker Lake: Jan. 31 at 6:30 p.m, community hall;
- Chesterfield Inlet: Feb. 2 at 6 p.m., community hall;
- Whale Cove: Feb. 5 at 6 p.m., community hall;
- Rankin Inlet: Feb 6 at 6 p.m., community hall.
People unable to attend the meetings can provide their thoughts in an online survey. Nunami Stantec Ltd. is leading the study and design of the project.