Nunavut mayors draft two-stage plan for Manitoba road link
Winter road “a necessary first step” to connect with Manitoba
Mayors of the Kivalliq region and the town of Churchill, Manitoba want to develop a winter road between their communities as a “first step” toward building a permanent road link.
The mayors agreed to a two-stage plan of action for the road at this year’s Kivalliq Mayors’ Forum and Hudson Bay Regional Roundtable in Rankin Inlet, Sept. 10 to Sept. 12.
Proposals for the road go back more than 10 years. This time the mayors are confident their plan, which calls for a gradual approach, will gain traction.
“I think it’ll actually go ahead,” said Robert Janes, mayor of Rankin Inlet. “It does seem now that we’re having some positive movement.”
The mayors have called, firstly, for “all levels” of government, regional Inuit organizations and the private sector to “work to develop a winter road as the necessary first step to connecting Nunavut and Manitoba,” reads the seventh and final resolution passed at the meeting.
A permanent, year-round connection between Manitoba and the region must then be made with an “all-weather” road, which would be built after the winter road and cover the same roadways, the mayors decided.
The Hudson Bay Regional Roundtable calls for Nunavut’s department of economic development and transportation, the Government of Manitoba, and regional Inuit organizations “to be involved with such a meeting and develop a framework for making an all-weather road between Manitoba and the Kivalliq region a reality,” the roundtable’s third resolution states.
A 1,200 kilometre permanent road between the two regions is estimated to cost about $1.5 billion, up from previous estimates, Janes said.
“That’s a lot of money. Obviously, we want to see how [the winter road] goes first,” he said. Set-up costs for the winter road are about $24 million in total, he added, for a road that would last just three months of the year.
“The potential may be there, at some point, to actually put in a full-time permanent road, but certainly I think we’re going to have to go with the winter road first,” he said.
Development of a permanent all-weather road would follow gradually. Once the winter road is up and running, the mayors’ plans call for sections of solid gravel road to be built.
Permanent structures such as culverts and bridges will be added to this, said Rob Hedley, Community Development Coordinator for Nunavut’s Department of Community and Government Services, which organized the meeting.
“You add all those permanent structures, and then that’s when you can start developing to a more all-season road,” Hedley said.
“Then of course you need money, and you need partners,” said Hedley. “So you’re looking at all levels of government, plus the private sector. Because it won’t work without the private sector and it won’t work without the participation of all governments.”
Other resolutions passed at the meeting included:
• a call for the Government of Nunavut to build sports facilities for large sporting events in the Kivalliq region;
• support for recycling efforts in the region, and transport of recyclable material “for processing and proper storage;”
• support for the Kivalliq Inuit Association’s efforts to build cultural centres in each community of the region; and,
• support for the Hudson Bay Regional Roundtable “as a positive exercise for relationship-building” between Kivalliq communities and the province of Manitoba.