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$185.8 million for infrastructure

Brodie Thomas
Northern News Services
Published Monday, June 30, 2008

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - The GNWT and Canadian government signed a multi-million dollar deal earlier this month to improve territorial transportation networks and key infrastructure projects.

The second step in establishing the Building Canada infrastructure plan was ratified by territorial and federal representatives on June 19.

The Provincial Territorial (PT) Base Funding Agreement is worth $185.8 million through to 2014. The money will be used to support infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and water treatment plants.

Public Works and Services Minister Michael McLeod signed the agreement with Lawrence Cannon, federal minister of Transportation in Yellowknife.

McLeod announced the Kakisa River bridge would be the first project to receive funding.

The agreement was the second step in setting up the Building Canada Fund. The general framework was signed several months ago. The base funding agreement goes into more detail on numbers.

"It spells out the amount for the base funding and per capita funding. It also spells out the broad categories that the funding can be used for," said McLeod.

"The next step is to bring our projects to the federal government for sign off. That will be done on an annual basis."

He said the money is welcome but added it will not solve all of the territory's infrastructure deficits.

David Krutko, Beaufort Delta MLA, is pushing to spend some of the money on a road to a gravel source near Aklavik.

"It will allow us to improve the infrastructure in our communities but more importantly, now we can't use the excuse that we don't have any money," he said.

"In communities such as Aklavik and especially Tuk, because of global warming, we're seeing shore erosion and buildings shifting due to permafrost melting. We have to be able to access gravel. In the case of Aklavik it is only 20 km from the community. It's important that we do everything we can to develop a proposal and get it into the federal government for the building Canada Fund."

McLeod said besides signing the agreement, he also received confirmation communities will continue to benefit from the federal gas tax fund. That will be worth $88.5 million for the NWT between 2007 and 2014.

"It's not really new news but we finally got the formal confirmation. It's $60 million over four years," said McLeod.

He said that money will be geared towards community infrastructure, which could include projects such as wastewater treatment initiatives.