ARCHIVED - Building for Prosperity: Public Infrastructure in the Northwest Territories

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Minister's Message from Minister Lebel

The Honourable Denis Lebel

The Honourable Denis Lebel, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and
Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Safe, modern and efficient public infrastructure is key to Canada's economic prosperity. Knowing how important infrastructure is to our country as a whole, and to the quality of life of every Canadian, I am proud to be leading the development of a long-term plan for public infrastructure that extends beyond the expiry of the Building Canada Plan. A new long-term infrastructure plan will position our nation to meet the challenges and opportunities of the coming decades.

Through Canada's Economic Action Plan and our infrastructure programs, our government has maintained an open dialogue with partners and stakeholders about the best way to support national and local priorities through infrastructure investments. Moving forward we will continue to work closely on infrastructure projects that make a difference for communities large and small. From building the most northern segment of the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway to replacing water and sewer facilities in our remote communities, together, we are making Canada a better place in which to live, work and do business.

As the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, I am very proud of the achievements that have been made possible through partnerships with the Northwest Territories and its communities. Looking ahead, these strong ties will form the foundation of the next long-term infrastructure plan and ensure Canadian communities continue to grow and prosper.

Working together, we will accomplish more and ensure Canada remains well-positioned for the future.

Minister's Message from Minister McLeod

The Honourable Robert C. McLeod

The Honourable Robert C. McLeod
Lead Minister
Infrastructure Cabinet Committee
Government of the Northwest Territories

Since the signing of the Building Canada Plan Agreement in 2008, significant investments in public infrastructure have been realized in the Northwest Territories. As the Minister responsible for Infrastructure, I am especially proud of the improvements to public infrastructure achieved through our partnership with federal and community governments under the Building Canada Plan, the Gas Tax Fund and the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund. Together, we have begun to reduce our infrastructure deficit, have provided economic stimulus across every region of our territory and have increased the quality of life for Northwest Territories residents.

The Government of the Norwest Territories' 17th Legislative Assembly has identified a strengthened and diversified economy and strategic infrastructure investments, such as the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway and the Mackenzie Fiberoptic Link, as priorities of this Assembly. The Government of the Northwest Territories is, therefore, pleased to engage with the Government of Canada in the development of a long-term infrastructure plan and we look forward to our continued partnership with the federal government and Northwest Territories' community governments. I believe we can continue to address our infrastructure deficit, protect the investments already made to our public infrastructure and ensure the future prosperity of the Northwest Territories.

Success Through Partnership:

Working Together to Accomplish More

Since 2007, federal, territorial and community governments have made significant investments in public infrastructure in the Northwest Territories. Most recently, Canada's Economic Action Plan accelerated existing infrastructure programs and delivered new funding to create jobs and growth.

Infrastructure commitments under the Building Canada Plan total over $310 million* and have resulted in over 60 initiatives across the Territory, helping create the right conditions for economic growth and long-term prosperity. With a focus on the Northwest Territories' priorities, funding has included transportation infrastructure, such as highway rehabilitation and investments in local and regional airports, community drinking water infrastructure and sports and recreation facilities.


  • transportation:
    19 initiatives worth over $204 million
  • green infrastructure:
    10 initiatives worth over $14 million
  • sports and recreation:
    12 initiatives worth over $40 million
  • drinking water:
    8 initiatives worth over $35 million
  • other:
    15 initiatives worth over $18 million

Infrastructure Funding by Category

Infrastructure Funding by Category

*based on total eligible costs

Funding under the Building Canada Plan is flexible and supports additional priorities for the territory's unique infrastructure needs, such as commmunity offices and fire halls. Over $18 million has been directed to these local priorities, which have a direct and positive impact on the daily lives of people across the Northwest Territories.

Partnership in Action

Working together to build infrastructure achieves local and regional priorities while supporting national objectives. The Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, the cornerstone of Canada's Economic Action Plan, has demonstrated what strong partnerships can accomplish. During the global economic downturn, all orders of government responded quickly and effectively to identify shovel-ready projects, drive employment and boost the economy, through infrastructure projects worth more than $13.4 million. These projects provided lasting benefits to communities across the Northwest Territories.

Canada's Gas Tax Fund at Work in the Northwest Territories:

Local Projects, Long-term Results

Each year, Canada's Gas Tax Fund is delivered to municipalities across the country for local infrastructure renewal, providing greater certainty and support for long-term economic growth. Increased to $2 billion per year nationally in 2009 and made permanent in 2011, the Gas Tax Fund supports municipal infrastructure projects that create jobs and help to protect the environment – contributing to cleaner air, cleaner water, and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Across the Northwest Territories, municipalities have invested close to 70 percent of their Gas Tax funds in drinking water and wastewater upgrades. These investments have improved the quality of life in communities across the territory. Between 2005 and 2014, the Northwest Territories will receive a total of $97.5 million from Canada's Gas Tax Fund for local infrastructure priorities.

Gas Tax Expenditures by Category,
2005-06 to 2010-11

Gas Tax Fund Expenditures by Category

"Northwest Territories communities face many challenges; however, the Gas Tax Fund has proved an essential tool for building capacity toward more sustainable communities, enriching our quality of life and improving the standard of living for Northwest Territories residents. The base plus per capita formula of the Gas Tax Fund has allowed even our smallest, most isolated communities the ability to begin to address their infrastructure deficit."

– Gordon Van Tighem, President of the
Northwest Territories Association of Communities

Waste Management in Yellowknife

waste management in Yellowknife

Through the Gas Tax Fund, the City of Yellowknife has substantially improved its solid waste management system, including programs to reduce the amount of garbage generated, and improved diversion and recycling rates. The City of Yellowknife also initiated a pilot project in 2009 for a centralized compost facility to divert organic materials that would normally be included int he city's landfill. To date, the facility has diverted approximately 265 tonnes of organic waste and 75 tonnes of shredded box board and paper. These improvements have extended the life of the City's solid waste site.

Supporting the Local Economy

In addition to infrastructure funding under the Building Canada Plan and the Gas Tax Fund, communities in the Northwest Territories have benefited from funding under the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, the cornerstone of the Government of Canada's Economic Action Plan. Infrastructure projects worth more than $13.4 million have helped to create jobs and boost the economy in the Northwest Territories.

Through the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, new air terminal buildings were constructed in the remote communities of Sachs Harbour, Paulatuk and Tuktoyaktuk. Territorial parks across the Northwest Territories were also enhanced with new facilities, trails and picnic shelters. Other community projects included solid waste infrastructure, maintenance garages, road upgrading, and community and fire hall renovations. These projects provided local jobs and improved economic opportunities across all communities when they were most needed.

Antoine Beaulieu Community Hall

Antoine Beaulieu Community Hall, Fort Resolution

Cameron River Trail System

Cameron River Trail System, North Slave Region

James Gruben Airport Terminal

James Gruben Airport Terminal, Tuktoyaktuk

New Kakisa River Bridge Eliminates Bottleneck on Canada's Highway System

Part of Canada's Highway System, the Kakisa River Bridge forms an essential link on the primary road access between Northwest Territories and Alberta. With partnership funding from the Government of Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories, a new bridge was completed in 2009 that will provide safe access for the next 75 years.

The new bridge significantly enhanced traffic conditions. Prior to the upgrades, reduced speed limits and other restrictions aimed at preserving and extending the life of the bridge forced trucks to travel at five kilometres per hour in the centre lane. Today, thanks to the joints infrastructure investments, traffic can flow uninterrupted across this major supply route.

bridge under construction

Girders installation

bridge under construction

Girders installation

bridge under construction

Partial pre-cast deck installation

completed bridge

New Kakisa River Bridge

Most Northern Segment of the Mackenzie Valley Highway Constructed:
Tuktoyaktuk Gravel Access Road

Map of Mackenzie Valley Highway

The construction of the Mackenzie Valley Highway has been a long-term priority of the Government of Canada, the Government of the Northwest Territories, and Aboriginal and community governments throughout the Mackenzie Valley.

Completed in 2009, a 19-kilometre segment of road was built from Tuktoyaktuk to a gravel source known as Source 177. Affectionately called the "Happy Road" by the community, the road has provided access to high quality and reliable granular material for the use of local construction, housing, and general municipal undertakings. Access has also led to numerous jobs and training opportunities for the community.

In 2011, the Government of Canada committed an additional $150 million to complete an all-weather road between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk. Once complete, the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway will be the first all-weather road to the Arctic Coast, connecting Canada for the first time from coast to coast to coast.

Improved Drinking Water for Five Remote Communities

The construction of new water treatment plants in five remote communities in the Northwest Territories has been bundled together as one project to be completed by March 2014. This project is a priority for the Government of the Northwest Territories, not only because these communities require new water treatment plants to meet the Canadian Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality, but also because their small populations and remote locations created capacity issues for overseeing a large-scale construction project.

The five communities to receive new water treatment plants through this project are the communities of Lutselk'e, Jean Marie River, Trout Lake, Wrigley and Fort Good Hope. The new water treatment plants will have similar design, parts, operation and maintenance requirements, which will allow for easier training and access to supplies once the community governments take over the facilities. The bundled water treatment plant project has realized excellent economies of scale and is an example of the success that can be achieved through strong partnerships between all orders of government.

Water Treatment Plant

Water Treatment Plant,
Jean Marie River

Water Treatment Plant

Water Treatment Plant,

Reservoir Fill

Reservoir Fill,
Trout Lake

Looking Back: Success in the Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories has made great gains in addressing its territorial and community infrastructure needs since signing the Building Canada Plan Agreement in 2008. Through the Building Canada Plan, the Gas Tax Fund and the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, the federal, territorial and community governments have built new airports and terminals, water treatment plants, community halls and solid waste sites, and have reconstructed highways across the Northwest Territories.

Partnership among the Government of Canada, the Government of the Northwest Territories and Northwest Territories' community governments has resulted in over $310 million in infrastructure investments. These funds have not only improved the services and facilities available to Northwest Territories residents but have also provided increased local economic development opportunities.

Combined Services Building

Combined Services Building, Yellowknife Airport

Cameron River Trail System

Cameron River Trail System, North Slave Region

Liard Highway Reconstruction

Liard Highway Reconstruction, Ford Liard

Looking Ahead: Priorities in the Northwest Territories

Although federal, territorial and community investment in public infrastructure has been significant in recent years, there still remains a large infrastructure deficit across the Northwest Territories. Aging and underdeveloped infrastructure, increasing resource development pressures and climate change impacts are contributing to this deficit.

Northern infrastructure needs are unique because an underdeveloped infrastructure system serves many small communities dispersed over a large land mass. Each of the 33 communities in the Northwest Territories requires its own supporting infrastructure, and many communities are not connected to all-weather road systems. The Northern reality includes short construction seasons, special design considerations due to climate, and the impact of climate change on infrastructure. The Northwest Territories is also unique in that the federal government still retains responsibility and authority for new roads.

Continued partnerships and the development of a new long-term infrastructure plan will help address the Northwest Territories' infrastructure gap. As well, significant resource development opportunities are present in the Northwest Territories and strategic investment in northern infrastructure will be central in developing the North's potential and in ensuring a sustainable future for all Canadians.

Moving Forward Together

Continuing Partnerships

Achieving our goals as a nation means that all orders of government and other partners must work together. We all know that public infrastructure plays a key role in our lives and in our economic well-being. Canada's long-term prosperity relies on the strength of our communities and the basic services that support them.

Through Canada's Economic Action Plan and infrastructure initiatives such as the Building Canada Fund, the Gas Tax Fund, and the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, great things have been built in the Northwest Territories. People across the territory are benefitting from cleaner water and improved transportation infrastructure. The tangible benefits of our infrastructure investments increase every day as more and more projects are completed.

The Government of Canada is committed to continuing a partnership approach to national, regional and local infrastructure priorities. Strong partnerships mean that every dollar invested in public infrastructure will meet today's needs and sustain future economic growth and development.

A New Long-Term Plan

On November 30, 2011, the Government of Canada launched a process to engage partners from across the country on a new long-term public infrastructure plan. This means working with provinces, territories, municipalities, key stakeholders, as well as with technical experts, to build knowledge around five broad themes:

  • infrastructure and the economy;
  • infrastructure and the environment;
  • infrastructure and stronger communities;
  • financing infrastructure; and
  • asset planning and sustainability.

In the lead-up to the new long-term infrastructure plan, we will undertake a constructive dialogue that focuses on the broad principles, priorities and future directions for public infrastructure in Canada. Working together will ensure that Canada has a strong public infrastructure foundation for continued growth and economic prosperity – now and for years to come.

Northwest Territories logo
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