Communities in the Sahtu and Inuvialuit Settlement Region were the Northwest Territories recipients of $6.4-million in significant upgrades to needed infrastructure related to oceans protections and environment announced on Nov. 10.
The federal government revealed that it will provide $64.9 million to 15 projects in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut.
Funding comes from the federal Department of Transportation’s Oceans Protection Plan.
Hamlet of Tulita
Part of the money allotted to the NWT will go toward replacing a 150-metre pipeline that transfers petroleum from barges on the Mackenzie River to Tulita as well as upgrading equipment for petroleum use.
“This is a good one and is much needed because the community was in dire need,” said Michael McLeod, Member of Parliament for the NWT. “The community needs to be able to pump fuel from where the boats dock up to the (hamlet) facility. This new pipeline will replace existing infrastructure which was at risk of failure. There are always concerns that if that happens, it could lead to an environmental spill.
“There are still many communities that rely on diesel fuel to generate for homes and vehicles and this pipeline would reduce the risk for the environment and increase safety and efficiency for operations,” said McLeod.
NNSL Media was unable to reach Tulita Mayor Rocky Norwegian Sr. for comment on Thursday afternoon.
Norman Wells is also seeing upgrades to aging infrastructure as the federal government committed to fix a dock by replacing components, repairing bollards and removing excess gravel on the dock’s surface.
“The dock in Norman Wells was built in the 1960s and many use it including the Marine Transportation System (MTS), the Canadian Coast Guard, private operators like Esso,” McLeod said. “It was really in poor condition and needed to be replaced.”
Mayor Frank Pope said that the community has four docks, one of which – the NTCL or the town dock – is badly in need of repair. He hadn’t heard about the announcement as of Thursday.
“What we call the town dock – it needs a major upgrade and I hope that is what they are talking about,” Pope said on Thursday.
Pope said that the dock does need a major facelift with more gravel to level it out and its steel frontage is damaged badly and in need of replacement due to contact with ice, barges and other boats.
About four years ago, the federal government also provided a major facelift to another dock, which is used by the Canadian Coast Guard, Pope said.
Inuvialuit Regional Corporation
The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation communities of Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour and Ulukhaktok will see repaired moorings to secure barges for sealift operations.
“That needed to be upgraded and I think it will be well received to have the moorings on the shores of IRC upgraded,” McLeod said. “It is something also that has been identified that needed to be replaced for a while.”
IRC Chair and CEO Duane Smith issued a statement to NNSL Media saying the upgrades are welcome in his communities and that it represents a start of many items long needed items in the region.
“Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) appreciates this overdue repair of moorings as this is much needed,” Smith stated. “IRC also expects future commitments to improve- for new docks in our communities as well as safe harbour development as needed.
“IRC has been raising the need for these kinds of investments in such infrastructure.
“Infrastructure has been lacking for decades and IRC continues to stress the need for more investments, including airstrips, not only for safety and community security but sovereignty as well.”
Oceans Protection Plan
McLeod said he expects work on these projects to begin during next year’s construction season and that the $6.4 million announced this week represents an ongoing effort by the federal government to address serious environment and ocean protection infrastructure deficits in the North.
Since the $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan funding program was launched in 2016, McLeod said the NWT has done fairly well in receiving support. He estimated that there has been close to $40 million spent in the NWT over the past four years related to ocean and environmental infrastructure. That has included the purchase of barges and rescue boats as well as investments in marine training programming.
McLeod said funding under the program will continue until the money runs out, but it is clear that there are continuing needs in the NWT.
“There are just so many areas that require measures so that we can assist communities and we are probably running a deficit in marine and ocean protection,” he said.
He said typically projects are identified and worked out with the Government of the Northwest Territories. While there have been some discussions on dredging projects in coastal waters and harbour construction in the far North, details and conversations are still ongoing, McLeod added.