Sea, land, air considerations
Senate committee visits Yk

by P.J. Harston
Northern News Services

NNSL (DEC 11/96) - The North needs special consideration when it comes to air navigation services and technology, says a territorial cabinet minister.

Jim AntoineTransport Minister Jim Antoine (left) urged the Senate committee on transportation and communications -- visiting Yellowknife last week on a cross-Canada tour -- to keep that in mind when studying changes in air navigation rules.

He said air navigation services are critical because of the severe climate that air carriers operate in and the remoteness of the communities they serve.

However, he also said airports across the North are willing to test and certify new air navigation technologies.

"Air navigation services must not be compromised in the name of fiscal restraint," said Antoine. "As a minimum, community airport radio stations should be provided at all airports with scheduled air traffic."

In all, Antoine made 13 recommendations on three areas: air, highways and marine services.

He said a national highway program with federal funding is needed to eliminate several sections of unsafe Northern highway.

"Remote regions such as the Northwest Territories must receive special consideration," said Antoine. "It would be quite inequitable if funding priorities ... are determined mainly on the basis of traffic volumes."

He noted that the North is the only area of the nation that still has gravel sections of major highways.

Antoine also asked the committee to urge the federal government to recognize that the Arctic, as an underdeveloped region of Canada, must be given special consideration when marine services decisions are made.

"The (GNWT) is extremely concerned that the federal government downsizing and cutbacks in (marine) programs may jeopardize not only the safety of marine transportation in the Arctic, but also future mineral development prospects of both Nunavut and the western territory," he said.

The Senate committee will take Antoine's 13 recommendations back to Ottawa for consideration.