The Rankin Inlet airport terminal will receive two new wings that will increase its existing capacity four-fold.
Transport Canada Minister Marc Garneau made the $45.5 million announcement in Iqaluit on Aug. 13.
Garneau also announced another $4.5 million from the National Trade Corridors Fund will be used to conduct the study and design of a 450-kilometre all-season road in the Kivalliq that would connect Rankin Inlet to Arviat, Chesterfield Inlet and Whale Cove.
Another $195,000 will be used to add boarding ramps at airports in Arviat, Whale Cove, Chesterfield Inlet, Baker Lake, Naujaat, Coral Harbour and Sanikiluaq to aid passengers with disabilities.
Rankin Inlet senior administration officer Justin Merritt said he has known the money to expand the terminal building was coming for the past couple of years and was just waiting for the official announcement to be made.
He said the $4.5 million for the road study and design came as good news to the communities involved.
“If nothing else, that money to be used for the all-season road is a start,” said Merritt.
“As for the terminal building, our airport is in bad need of expansion now that it’s the regional hub.
“We weren’t really ‘regional’ at one time, because ATRs went to Winnipeg from the outlying communities; sometimes direct and sometimes through Rankin.
“But now, everyone comes in here to get on the jet, so we badly need the expansion. It’s quite busy at our terminal now, especially from the late morning hours until the late afternoon.”
Merritt said it will be nice to see the what the study says on the all-season road, as well as its design.
He said there are definitely benefits to all four communities involved if the road goes ahead.
“It will make it more feasible to bring-in stuff in by jet for the people in the other three communities because it won’t have to go on another plane from Rankin.
“Once their goods land here, I would assume they will be able to be trucked to Arviat, Chester and Whale with that road in place.
“It would probably mean a bit of economic growth for Rankin with people driving in here to shop, as well.
“Maybe not so much for Arviat, but there’s a lot more variety in the stores in Rankin than Whale and Chester.”
Merritt said the road would also create regional employment.
He said people will be needed to maintain the road and someone will have to patrol it, as well.
“I don’t know if it will mean more RCMP officers or bylaw officers, but the road will definitely have to be patrolled.
“I would think the road will create at least 15 or 16 new jobs during the winter months.
“The idea of this road started with a push from the smaller communities, I would say, because they wanted roads for a longtime.
“Chesterfield Inlet, I know for sure, was a major supporter of this road.”