business pages

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Subscriber pages
buttonspacer News Desk
buttonspacer Columnists
buttonspacer Editorial
buttonspacer Readers comment
buttonspacer Tenders

Demo pages
Here's a sample of what only subscribers see

Subscribe now
Subscribe to both hardcopy or internet editions of NNSL publications

Our print and online advertising information, including contact detail.

Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page

Paulatuk mayor pleased with funding

Katherine Hudson/Andrew Livingstone
Northern News Services
Published Monday, March 21, 2011


An announcement last month to beef up environmental monitoring and shipping information in Arctic waters is a decision one Beaufort Delta mayor is pleased with, considering the growing potential for disaster in Arctic waters.

Paulatuk Mayor Ray Ruben said the almost $35-million investment over five years to enhance access to weather information and navigation shipping information in the North will help improve the already strong push to protect Northern waters from disasters.

"Any funding towards (protecting our waters) is positive," he said, adding he still wonders if the money will be spent to its fullest potential. "Thirty-five million might sound like a lot but it all depends on how they use it."

Environment Minister Peter Kent was in Yellowknife Feb. 22 to announce the five-year investment. A total of $26.5 million will be allocated to Environment Canada and $8.3 million will go to Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The development will be launched June 1.

After the five years of implementation, weather and ice forecast services and warning operations will be provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"These funds will be used specifically to expand Canada's capacity to monitor the environment and to get information out to those who need it. It will allow us to provide Arctic mariners with weather and ice information essential for safe routing through ice-infested waters," said Kent.

"It will also better advise vessels - large and small - of ice storms, freezing rain storms, ice flow movement through the navigable waters. We are aware that with increased traffic there will be increased risk of accidents," he said.

Kent said the expansion of Environment Canada's weather radio service in the NWT includes seven additional weather broadcast locations which are already up and running and an additional two sites expected to be operational this summer. Broadcasts can now be accessed in Tuktoyaktuk, Norman Wells, Nahanni Butte, Fort Providence, Fort McPherson, Fort Simpson and Behchoko. The two locations for the new weather radio service this summer are still being decided, according to Environment Canada. Once all nine stations are broadcasting, the information will be available to 93 per cent of the NWT.

"By beefing up Canada's presence in the Arctic, and ensuring it is better prepared to deal with severe weather events, we're protecting the sense of the natural environment and its people while honouring our international commitments," said Kent.

This is something Ruben said is crucial, especially today. With climate change front and centre, Ruben said more information will benefit far-North communities.

"We're not able to do it on our own," he said of the limited resources currently available to monitor the changing environment, especially in short-term situations.

"We've got eyes and ears, with the Rangers, but we can't hear and see always and it needs to be on a larger scale."

Ruben added the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, where millions of litres of oil polluted the waters and destroyed sensitive ecosystems, is a serious reminder that an accident like this can happen anywhere, especially the Arctic.

"We're more frail than we really know," he said. "The ecosystem is so delicate and all it would take is one big accident. It's a step in the right direction."

Since 2007's federal announcement of Canada's Northern Strategy, a federal plan to improve and protect Canada's North, legislation has been amended to get tough on polluters in Arctic waters. It is now mandatory for vessels heading north to report to NORDREG, Canada's northern marine traffic system.

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.