Inuvik, Northwest Territories
Prime Minister Stephen Harper today participated in a groundbreaking ceremony marking the beginning of construction of the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway in the Northwest Territories, effectively extending the Dempster Highway through to the Arctic coast. He was accompanied by Bob McLeod, Premier of the Northwest Territories, Nellie Cournoyea, Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Inuvialuit Regional Corporation as well as Robert Alexie Jr., President of the Gwich'in Tribal Council.
The Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway will be the very first year-round road between the Arctic coast and the rest of the country. Once completed, the 137-kilometre all-season highway will link the Town of Inuvik and the Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, an Arctic community currently accessible only by an ice road, barge or air.
The new stretch of highway, which is expected to be completed in 2018, will provide more efficient transport of northern products and resources to southern markets, will better connect Northerners to high quality, well-paying jobs, and will help bring lower cost supplies and materials up to northern communities and families. Also, studies have shown that the extension will significantly reduce the cost of living in Tuktoyaktuk while boosting the local economy. It is estimated that hundreds of jobs will be created during the four-year construction period in addition to an estimated 51 permanent careers after its completion.
The road has been identified as a priority by the governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories, and will have a direct impact on the regional economy. The initiative is in keeping with two key objectives of Canada’s Northern Strategy: ‘Promoting Social and Economic Development’ and ‘Exercising our Arctic Sovereignty.’