Federal report suggests dredging of the Hay River

NNSL file photo Wally Schumann: minister of Transportation pleased with federal report.

NNSL file photo
Wally Schumann: minister of Transportation pleased with federal report.

The need to dredge the Hay River has been specifically mentioned in a report of the Canada Transportation Act Review Committee released Feb. 25.

Among many other things, the 500-page, two-volume report recommends renewing federal government responsibility for and increasing investment in marine infrastructure, including federal funds to support dredging in Hay River.

“The Government of Canada regularly reviews its policies and regulations to ensure they serve Canada’s current and future needs,” states a federal government website where the review was made available. “The review provides a unique opportunity to consider how the national transportation system can best be leveraged to support Canada’s continuing economic growth.”

The report stated the federal government previously provided dredging services in the North including the Hay River, which it called a key hub for the transportation of goods into the High Arctic.

“Instead of operating with water drafts of metres, operators on the Hay River are dealing with centimetres,” the report stated, referring to the depth of the ship’s hull in the water. “Understandably, this has a negative effect on the fluidity of goods movement, adding to their cost. While aboard a small vessel, representatives of the review experienced firsthand the extremely shallow water on the Hay River – an additional example of the need for federal leadership to improve Northern transportation networks.”

The federal government also formerly funded the maintenance and repair of Northern landings, docks and harbours but in recent years has played a diminished role.

The review looks forward 20 to 30 years to identify priorities and potential actions in transportation that will support Canada’s long-term economic well-being, including that of the NWT and other areas of Northern Canada.

Recommendations include immediate support for the Mackenzie Valley Corridor (Mackenzie Valley Highway including from Tuktoyaktuk south to Yellowknife), the Coronation Yellowknife Corridor (Slave Geologic Province seasonal overland road and Gray’s Bay port and road project), and the Cassiar-Campbell Corridor (Western NWT resource development); immediate infrastructure investment in an all-season road from Yellowknife to Whati; and an investment of $50 million per year over 10 years for airport improvements.

We are very pleased with the recommendations from the review panel,” said Transportation Minister Wally Schumann, who is also the Hay River South MLA. “The GNWT participated in the review and we feel that the panel heard and appreciated the challenges that the North is facing and the need for federal investments in strategic infrastructure to secure base funding.”

The review was launched on June 25, 2014, and concluded on Dec. 21, 2015, when it was submitted.

The federal government is reviewing the report.

–Paul Bickford