Canyon Creek Road Advances

Work has resumed this winter on a 14-km all-season access road from Norman Wells to Canyon Creek.

The $20-million project, funded by the federal and territorial governments, also includes the construction of five kilometres of roads surrounding Canyon Creek.

“The contractor started right-of-way clearing work on March 15, 2017,” said Greg Hanna, communications coordinator with the GNWT Department of Infrastructure. 

“Embankment construction started on June 15; after completion of three-kilometre embankment, summer construction was shut down and construction will resume at the beginning of January.”

Though actual construction activities were curtailed for a few months, there were still some workers kept busy in anticipation of the second year of the project.

“Granular crushing is ongoing at the town quarry,” he added. “The project is expected to be complete by fall 2018.”

The Government of Canada is providing up to $15 million to this project through the Small Communities Fund while the GNWT is providing the remaining $5 million.

“This new access road and related road improvements will help the residents in the Sahtu region access employment opportunities, build new construction skills, and get to and from traditional hunting and fishing locations, while meeting the transportation needs of area businesses,” said Michael McLeod, Member of Parliament for the NWT. “The Government of Canada will continue to work in close partnership with the territory to ensure that we make smart infrastructure investments that help grow the economy and address local infrastructure priorities.”

To date the project has employed 26 workers, 16 of whom are from the Sahtu region, said Hanna, adding eight local people were also able to complete heavy equipment operator training as a result of the Canyon Creek all-season access road.

“Making sure Northerners have access to good, middle class jobs needs to be a priority for our governments. Delivering on that will require a clear vision for the North and a commitment to invest in the NWT and its people,” NWT Infrastructure Minister Wally Schumann said at the time of the funding announcement. “Investments in transportation infrastructure, like the Canyon Creek all-season access road, are one part of how the governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories can work together to support economic sustainability and job creation in Northern communities and in the Sahtu region specifically.”

The contract for construction of the road went to the TDIC/HRN Contracting Joint Venture – a key stakeholder being the Tulita District Investment Corporation, added Hanna.

The Canyon Creek access road represents another step towards the construction of the Mackenzie Valley Highway. It replaces the existing winter road that is constructed annually between Norman Wells and Canyon Creek.

The GNWT is hoping this project will be followed by additional efforts to extend the all-weather road network in the region and has applied to the new National Trade Corridors Fund, which includes up to $400 million in dedicated funding for Northern territorial transportation infrastructure over 11 years.

During a 2017 visit to Yellowknife federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau highlighted the importance of transportation for people living in the North. The Minister emphasized the need to address transportation challenges, such as accessibility to markets, difficult terrain and climate conditions and the high cost of construction along Canada’s trade corridors in the North.

“Enhancing the Northern transportation system will support and promote economic growth and social development, offer job opportunities, and ensure greater connectivity for Northerners,” said Garneau.

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