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Council considers building road to Diana River

Gravel route would cut down on damage to trails

Nathan VanderKlippe
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet (Aug 07/02) - Seeking to limit damage done to the land by ATVs blazing their own trails, Rankin's hamlet council is discussing a new gravel road to the Diana River.

"People are concerned that the land is getting more and more damaged and they try and make new trails. But if they (the hamlet) constructed a solid road, then they (road users) would use that appropriately," said deputy mayor Lavinia Brown.

The Diana River is a popular fishing and recreation area, and many residents of Rankin commute by ATV to cabins on the river. The new road would branch off the road to the elder's cabin, which has already been built.

Just over 10 kilometres would need to be covered with gravel. It's not the first time a road has been discussed. The hamlet priced out construction of the road at $80,000 a few years ago. The money was supposed to come from the GNWT, but the funding source dried up with the creation of Nunavut. The idea, though, has stuck around.

Ray Mercer, co-owner of M&T Enterprise Ltd., said construction of such a road would be easily feasible, and would likely take a summer.

"From the looks of things, you would just put gravel down on top of the tundra," said Mercer. "There may be a couple of creeks but there's no river to cross.... I just drove through the Rocky mountains in May. After seeing that, a road here is absolutely a piece of cake."

Mercer said the $80,000 estimate sounds "pretty cheap." Building a road, he added, is "just a matter of money."

Rankin senior administrator Ron Roach estimated the road will cost between $100,000 and $120,000.

Now it's just a matter of mustering the political will to find the money. Council is fresh off an announcement of a $314,000 budget surplus, money which could be used for the road. Councillors will talk through what to do with the surplus at a special Aug. 12 meeting.

A number of councillors have already expressed support for the road.

"Rankin is the only place that doesn't make roads to the cabins," said Coun. Laura Kowmuk, who spoke with hunters about the road. She said they agreed the throughway would reduce damage to the land.

"I'm not against using some of our surplus," said Coun. Justin Merritt.

But Kownuk said the hamlet should seek funding from Nunasi or KIA.

The road to the Diana may have to wait until another road is built, however. Several councillors suggested waiting to build the Diana road until a road is built to the new dump site, the idea being that dollars could be saved by coordinating the construction efforts.

"Most of the community is behind it," said Coun. Hamish Tatty. "But let's wait until after the dump."