Nunavut leaders meet on new infrastructure wish-list
“There is an infrastructure need”
Two federal ministers visited Iqaluit this week to talk about infrastructure with Nunavut leaders July 10, part of an effort to create a long-term plan for public infrastructure extending beyond Canada’s current Build Canada plan, which ends in 2014.
The national minister of transport, infrastructure and communities, Denis Lebel, and Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq, the national minister of health and minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, talked to Nunavut leaders like Premier Eva Aariak, NTI president Cathy Towtongie, and representatives from the private sector.
The goal of the meeting was to start talks about Nunavut’s long-term infrastructure needs, based on “broad directions and principles.”
“It is necessary to build an infrastructure plan for the years 2014 to 2015. We already have the Build Canada plan, the $33 billion dollar plan, which will flow [until] March 31 2014. And we’re preparing the new plan,” said Lebel.
But “what will be in [the plan], what projects will be accepted, how much money, that’s too soon,” he said.
The meeting follows similar roundtable sessions in many other jurisdictions across the country.
“We have priorities in Nunavut, and we respect the choices of the territories and we will work with them about these priorities,” Lebel said.
One priority mentioned more than any others in Nunavut was housing, Aglukkaq said.
“Housing is still a priority, and the premier raised that with us this morning,” Aglukkaq said.
She said a Nunavut housing strategy will be presented to her in the fall, and that she’s looking forward to seeing it.
“The key is, really, we need to be strategic and work in partnership with groups on the ground,” said Aglukkaq. “But really the general consensus in the communities [is that] there is an infrastructure need of some sort, but the priorities are consistent.”
Projects created from the Build Canada plan like the Arctic Winter Games Arena, have made “a real difference to the quality of life of residents and the economy of Iqaluit for years to come,” said Aglukkaq in a July 10 press release.
Other topics that arose were the need for deep-sea ports in Nunavut communities, and airport infrastructure.
“Ports, and not only deep-ports, have been discussed widely this morning,” said Lebel, with Aglukkaq adding significant improvements have already been made at Pangnirtung’s harbour, with $17 million invested in a small-craft harbour through Canada’s Economic Action Plan.
“This morning the feedback we received for the territorial government, NTI, the Inuit organizations, it included air strips, terminals — a number of projects important to the north,” said Aglukkaq.
The government of Canada says is wants to explore “opportunities that encourage greater private sector involvement and public-private partnerships to generate better value for taxpayers, and ensure affordability and sustainability over the long term.”