Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut March 11, 2014 - 7:00 am

For the upcoming fiscal year, Nunavut plans $150 million in capital spending

GN to spend $30.1 million on first year of Iqaluit airport scheme, $107.4 million by 2019

DAVID MURPHY
A computer rendition of the new terminal building the GN plans for its Iqaluit airport project, part of a huge scheme that will include extensive repaving and a new supply and services building. The GN will spend about $30.1 million on the project in 2014-15 and $107.4 million by 2019. (FILE IMAGE)
A computer rendition of the new terminal building the GN plans for its Iqaluit airport project, part of a huge scheme that will include extensive repaving and a new supply and services building. The GN will spend about $30.1 million on the project in 2014-15 and $107.4 million by 2019. (FILE IMAGE)

The Government of Nunavut, in its proposed capital budget for 2014-2015, plans to spend about $150 million, less than half of its revised capital spending estimate of $302 million in 2013-14.

Finance Minister Keith Peterson tabled the document March 10.

It shows that most of this year’s capital money will to the departments of Economic Development and Transportation, Community and Government Services, and the Nunavut Housing Corp.

The $150 million breaks down like this:

• Office of the Legislative Assembly: $305,000;

• Finance: $9,748,000;

• Family Services: $600,000;

• Justice: $900,000;

• Education: $23,710,000;

• Health: $12,423,000;

• Environment: $3,407,000;

• Community and Government Services: $32,688,000;

• Economic Development and Transportation: $35,968,000; and,

• Nunavut Housing Corp.: $30,230,000

The government is asking MLAs to approve that spending for the period between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015.

Starting this week, each minister responsible for a department will appear in committee of the whole to defend their department’s capital estimates and field questions from MLAs.

On March 10, George Kuksuk, the economic development and transportation minister, took the witness chair to defend his department’s $36 million capital budget.

About $30 million of that will be spent on the new Iqaluit airport project.

The GN’s five-year capital plan states that between now and 2019, the GN plans to spend about $107.4 million on the airport, with $30.1 million slated for this fiscal year.

“The funding will be used on initial stages of construction, which will begin in April of 2014,” Kuksuk said.

The GN will build the new Iqaluit airport complex, the largest single infrastructure project in Nunavut’s history, through a public-private partnership with a consortium called Arctic Infrastructure Partners.

The consortium sold $149 million worth of bonds this past September, at an interest rate of about 5 per cent, to help finance the project.

They will pay off the interest and principal on that debt with money that the GN will start giving them when construction starts.

The second largest amount spending item in the EDT budget is only $2.8 million. That will go towards a new information system for the motor vehicles unit.

The new system will hold data on drivers’ licenses, general identification cards and vehicle registration, Kuksuk said.

“It’s an important source of information for the delivery of many public services above and beyond motor vehicle services,” Kuksuk said.

The old system is obsolete and suffers periodic failures recently, Kuksuk said.

“Even when it’s working properly, this system limits our ability to improve our processes, operate efficiently and collaborate with other government bodies.”

The economic development department also plans for future spending on a regional visitors centre in Rankin Inlet.

“The Kivalliq is the only Nunavut region without a visitors centre,” Kuksuk said.

Spending on that project will begin in the 2015-2016, with $2 million planned for that fiscal year.

And Kuksuk defended the department’s small amount of planned spending on small craft harbours in 2014-15, only $500,000, saying it’s the federal government’s job to build harbours.

“By ensuring our commitment to these minor improvements in marine infrastructure, this funding will encourage the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans to continue and expand their own investment in small craft harbours in Nunavut,” Kuksuk said.

He also said the GN will continue to lobby Transport Canada to look at the idea of port construction in Nunavut.

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