Kivalliq hamlets call for better transport infrastructure for Nunavut
Aglukkaq hears what community reps think about 2014 budget
Although Nunavut has a long list of funding priorities under the 2014 federal budget, MP Leona Aglukkaq, the minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, says transportation infrastructure is the most important.
Leaders in the Kivalliq region’s two largest hamlets, Rankin Inlet and Arviat, echoed this opinion to the Nunavut MP during her visits to those communities between Feb. 16 and Feb. 19, Aglukkaq said.
Finance Canada’s 2014 federal budget document, unveiled Feb. 11, specifically states that the need “for a strong network of transportation infrastructure” in northern Canada “has intensified as a result of population growth, increased demand for ecotourism and investment in resource development projects.”
The document promises the federal government “will work with territorial governments and local municipalities to develop transportation infrastructure in the North.”
Under the New Canada Building Plan, the federal government has earmarked $419 million for infrastructure projects in Nunavut communities between 2014 and 2024.
The fund will cover “up to 70 per cent” of project costs, Aglukkaq said.
Nunavut also could benefit from even larger funds available for projects “of national significance.”
These funds could pay for the development of roads, ports, harbours, and airport runways, Aglukkaq said.
Roundtable discussions about the budget with hamlet officials, Inuit organizations, industry, and community groups in Rankin Inlet, as well as the Hamlet of Arviat, “reflected interest” in road projects and harbour developments, Aglukkaq told Nunatsiaq News, Feb. 21.
“My task will be to work with the territorial government in identifying their priorities,” which will be completed in the spring, she said.
Arviat mayor Bob Leonard said discussions included a proposed road linking Nunavut to Manitoba, as well as “the potential for a power line from Manitoba.”
Aglukkaq’s visit to the Kivalliq communities coincided with a $5.3-million cold-weather exercise by Canadian Armed Forces in the region.
Exercise Trillium Response runs Feb. 15 to 25, and includes about 25 Canadian Rangers who shared their skills and knowledge of the local terrain with regular and reserve force members.
The exercise “in my view benefits communities, and it benefits the Rangers. They provide an essential service in our communities,” Aglukkaq said.
“Canadian Rangers are the same people that provide search and rescue services to our communities, so the exercise and training is important.”
The 2014 budget includes a 15 per cent tax credit for search and rescue volunteers who perform 200 or more hours of service per year.
Aglukkaq also discussed the budget with government, business and community representatives in Iqaluit, Feb. 22, before returning to Ottawa.