Mayor brings wish listTown leader uses conference to lobby higher levels of government
Northern News Services
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Improving the first bridge from the Yukon on the Dempster Highway and bringing the gravel pit near the airport under town control were Inuvik Mayor Jim McDonald's two main lobbying points when he attended the Opportunities North conference in Yellowknife earlier this month.
Mayor Jim McDonald attended the Opportunities North conference with two main goals in mind: lobbying to have the bridge over the Klondike River repaired or replaced, and bringing the gravel pit by the airport under the town's ownership. - Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
McDonald met with GNWT Transportation Minister Wally Schumann to urge the government to lobby for the repair or replacement of the bridge over the Klondike River, which is the first one on the Dempster Highway coming to the Northwest Territories from the Yukon.
"There are some structural issues with it," said McDonald about the bridge. "They had weight restrictions on it for about a month there. They were only allowing half loads, they couldn't take the full weight truckloads, which has a big impact on the cost of living in our community. The cost of everything rises with that, groceries, fuel, everything. It was a big concern for us."
The difficulty of course is that the bridge is under the Yukon territorial government's jurisdiction, even though the highway is so important to the NWT.
"The Dempster is our lifeline, so
it's an important transportation link for us," said McDonald.
He guessed it was a pretty low priority for the Yukon but thinks there could be federal funding available to repair or replace it.
"Because of its age, I could see it being replaced," said McDonald. "If it was repaired I would think it would only be temporary because of the age of the bridge. I don't know how much more life they could get out of it with just repairs. It's probably time it was replaced."
He also continued to push the GNWT to get the gravel pit by the airport under town control.
Currently, only the Town of Inuvik is permitted to remove material from that pit, but McDonald hopes that can be opened up to the whole community.
"Hopefully we would be able to acquire that land with the pit but that's a ways away," he said. "We're just in the early stages of renegotiating that one."
Two other gravel pits are available for businesses to use in Inuvik, but McDonald said the material in them is not of as high a quality.
"It's OK as a base material but it's more mud than it is gravel," he said. "That pit at the airport is more of a rock gravel. It's a better material for building."
Proximity to the airport is the main stumbling block on allowing the town to purchase that quarry, he said.