Canadian government gives giant boost to Northern highway project

From left: Todd McCauley, N.W.T. Premier Bob McLeod, federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Affairs Carolyn Bennett, N.W.T. Minister of Infrastructure Wally Schumann, Member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories Michael McLeod, and Sahtu Secretariat chair Charles McNeely pose for a photo at Wednesday’s funding announcement. Todd McCauley holds a photo of his late mother Cece Hodgson-McCauley, a fierce advocate for the highway. (Jamie Malbeuf/CBC)
The federal government has announced it is investing $102.5 million in the Northwest Territories’ Mackenzie Valley Highway project, aimed to construct a bridge over the Great Bear River as well as an all-weather road.

The money is expected to support the construction of a bridge over Great Bear River, near Tulita, construction of a 15-kilometre all-weather road from Wrigley (in western part of Northwest Territories) north to Mount Gaudet, and environmental and planning studies for the Mackenzie Valley Highway.

The announcement was made Wednesday morning in a ceremony at Yellowknife’s Legislative Assembly.

If completed, the Mackenzie Valley Highway would run north from Wrigley to the Dempster Highway, which leads to Inuvik. (CBC)
Son of late Inuvik leader happy

At the announcement, the government prominently displayed a photo of the late Cece Hodgson-McCauley — the former chief of the Inuvik Dene Band and an influential newspaper columnist who was a fierce advocate for the construction of the highway.

Cece’s son Todd McCauley, who was at the announcement, said that his late mother “would be glad to see progress being made, absolutely.”

“She would probably want the whole highway to be built,” he said. “But little movements are better than no movements, and I think this is exciting.”

A boost to local economy

The studies are expected to help “inform” the highway’s final route and design, and lead to construction permits to build the road, according to a news release issued by the federal government.

The federal government said the N.W.T. government is contributing $37.5 million, bringing the total investment announced Wednesday to $140 million.

Danny Gaudet, the former negotiator for Deline’s self-government, says he’s hopeful this announcement will bring jobs to his region. (Jamie Malbeuf/CBC)

The federal government is projecting the highway will create 400 jobs, which was music to the ears of Danny Gaudet, the former chief negotiator of the self-government agreement for the community of Deline.

“When the oil and gas industry died, I see the people struggle in the communities,” said Gaudet. “[Trying] to just get basic food, basic rents paid. And announcements like this kind of give a boost to this idea that we’re going to get back to work here.”

If complete, the Mackenzie Valley Highway would run north from Wrigley before connecting to the Dempster Highway, connecting a number of communities in the region to the territory’s highway network.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: How Northwestern Inuit led construction of Canada’s highway to Arctic Ocean, Cryopolitics Blog

Faroes: Underwater tunnels revolutionize transport in the Faroe Islands, Cryopolitics Blog

Finland: Finnish drivers less likely to receive compensation for damages occurred on Arctic roads, Yle News

Norway: European Commission suggests extending major rail network to Northern Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Smelters, huskies, and fish pies: the Arctic road from Norway to Russia, Cryopolitics Blog

Sweden: Sweden breaks ground on test plant for fossil-free steel production, The Independent Barents Observer

United-States: Trump claims Alaska wildlife refuge road ‘almost completed’… but is it?, Alaska Public Media

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