Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Around the Arctic July 30, 2014 - 2:59 pm

Private Inuit orgs may qualify for federal infrastructure bucks

Kitikmeot Inuit take credit for Ottawa’s new rules

NUNATSIAQ NEWS

"It is very satisfying when these sorts of results are achieved for the benefit of all northerners and Inuit, regardless of their territory or province,” KIA president Charlie Evalik said July 21.

Private Inuit corporations may now compete with municipal, territorial and provincial governments for federal infrastructure dollars — and the Kitikmeot Inuit Association takes credit for the change.

That’s because of new rules governing who is allowed to get money from two big federal programs: the New Building Canada Fund and the P3 Canada fund.

Both pots of money are aimed at helping pay for public infrastructure in territories, provinces and municipalities.

Starting this year, private Inuit corporations are eligible to receive money from either fund.

That list includes: Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., Kitikmeot Inuit Association, Kivalliq Inuit Association, Qikiqtani Inuit Association, Makivik Corp, the Nunatsiavut government and the Inuvialuit Regional Corp.

One of those corporations, the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, credits its wholly-owned subsidiary, Nunavut Resources Corp., for helping to open up those funds for Inuit corporations.

“The efforts to secure the changes to the eligibility criteria were spearheaded by Nunavut Resources Corp. in its efforts to facilitate major mine-related infrastructure development in the Kitikmeot region of Nunavut,” the KIA said in a press release July 21.

The Nunavut Resources Corp., formed in 2010, has been itching to get into gas, oil and mineral projects since its creation.

They already own an exploration firm called West Kitikmeot Gold Corp., and they’ve formed a strategic alliance with another firm called HTX Minerals Corp.

They’ve also expressed interest in building roads and other infrastructure for Sabina Gold and Silver Corp. and a string of micro-wave repeater towers between the Hope Bay gold project and fibre-optic networks in the South.

But they’ve had trouble raising funds on private capital markets.

And they’ve been thwarted by eligibility rules that have shut them out of the P3 Canada and Building Canada funds.

For example, in 2012, P3 Canada rejected a funding application from Nunavut Resources on the grounds that the KIA is not a government and therefore not eligible.

A letter that year from the Government of Nunavut to P3 Canada confirmed that the KIA is not a government.

But now, the KIA says that gaining access to P3 Canada and the New Building Canada Fund will help Nunavut Resources acquire “significant Inuit equity participation in infrastructure projects.”

“KIA has devoted a significant amount of time and resources to NRC and it is very satisfying when these sorts of results are achieved for the benefit of all northerners and Inuit, regardless of their territory or province,” KIA president Charlie Evalik said.

Leona Aglukkaq, the minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, chimed in the next day, saying she likes the changes.

“With these changes, key Government of Canada infrastructure programs are now available to our northern Aboriginal partners and will contribute to long-term and sustainable economic development in the North,” Aglukkaq said in a July 22 statement.

In Nunavut, the New Building Canada Fund is worth $256 million over 10 years — about $25.6 million a year.

Another pot of money called the Gas Tax Fund will supply Nunavut with another $163 million, for a total of $419 million over 10 years.

Usually, Ottawa doles out this kind of money on a one-third cost-shared basis, meaning that federal, territorial and municipal governments each chip in one-third of a given project’s cost.

But it’s not clear how this would work with Inuit corporations — because they are not governments.

In the P3 Canada program, P3 Canada normally contributes up to 25 per cent of the cost of a project, with governments and participating private companies responsible for the rest.

In 2012, P3 Canada approved a $73-million grant to the GN for use in building the new Iqaluit airport.

First Nations band councils are also now eligible to apply for infrastructure funding from the two programs.

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