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Transport network needs big fix, GN report says

Dozens of recommendations require federal funds

By CHRIS WINDEYER

Nunavut needs a massive overhaul of its transportation network, including deep-water ports, small craft harbours, airport improvements and roads, according to the latest Government of Nunavut transportation strategy.

Ingirrasiliqta or “Let’s Get Moving”, tabled June 5 in the Legislative Assembly, presents a familiar list of infrastructure needs and an equally familiar problem: no sure source of the billions of dollars needed to pay for them.

But the document envisions a shift away from a piecemeal transportation system designed to administer a colony that does not connect communities to natural resources and build an economy.

“As the system currently exists, our communities are viewed as destinations, or isolated points, and the object of the system is to deliver basic services and necessities to those points but not beyond,” the report states.

“[I]t is essential to invest in bringing the accessibility of our great wealth in line with those of other jurisdictions in Canada and around the world.”

So while the document acknowledges that most Nunavut communities will likely never be connected by road, it does call for those communities to be connected to nearby natural resources with local access roads and small craft harbours.

The GN wants to see the 2006 Small Craft Harbours Report, which called for docks in seven Nunavut communities, acted on and expanded to include other communities. This, the report says, would boost the fishing industry and ease the sealift process.

Currently only one of the harbours proposed in that report, in Pangnirtung, is under construction, thanks to money provided in the last two federal budgets.

The strategy says Nunavut’s airports, many of which date to the 1970s or earlier, need a major overhaul.

Smaller communities need longer, smoother runways to handle newer aircraft, a step that would make airline routing more efficient.

It also calls for a new terminal building for Iqaluit, new landing assistance equipment and a bigger apron for Rankin Inlet, and a runway in Cambridge Bay long enough to handle modern jets.

It also calls for the construction of the Kivalliq-Manitoba highway and the Bathurst Inlet Port and Road (BIPAR) project connecting the Kitikmeot to the National Highway System via the Contwoyto winter ice road.

The road to Manitoba and the potential construction of a deep-water port would make Rankin Inlet the leading contender for a multi-modal hub that would connect road, air and marine routes together.

“One or more ports in the territory will become economic centres, where goods can be warehoused for year-round distribution to other communities in the territory,” the report states. That would reduce Nunavut’s dependence on southern shipping points like Montreal, Churchill and Hay River.

There’s no dollar tally attached to the projects in the report, although the big-ticket item, the Manitoba road, is projected to cost over $1 billion.

But the document calls for the creation of a strategy to capitalize on federal infrastructure spending programs, the inclusion of transportation as a key element of an economic development agreement with Ottawa, and the promotion of the Nunavut component of 2005’s national transportation strategy, which called more most of the initiatives contained in Ingirrasiliqta.

You can download the document at www.edt.gov.nu.ca.

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