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Road from Arviat to Maguse Lake finished

Erika Sherk
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, September 22, 2010

ARVIAT - Fifteen years after construction began, the road from Arviat to Maguse Lake is finally complete.

"It's been an ongoing project," said Arviat SAO Ed Murphy.

NNSL photo/graphic

Steven Keepseeyak, an Arviat hamlet employee, works on the Maguse Road Project. - photo courtesy of Ed Murphy

The project was started before his time as senior administrative officer. In 1995 hamlet council, "kind of had a vision," he said.

"A lot of folks here historically have had cabins out at Maguse Lake. It was a desire of the community to try and build this road."

The road is 65 kilometres long.

"Every summer we would go a little bit further as much as time and funding allowed us to do so," Murphy said.

Either contractors or hamlet staff would work on the road, using gravel from the eskers to smooth out uneven areas. It took years because of the expense involved.

"Not every year are you able to devote resources, manpower, equipment or finances to do it," said Murphy. "When you're building a road across the tundra and you're using things like dozers and dump trucks it's a fairly rough process. It's not like a big developer with a lot of heavy equipment you can throw at it, we have very limited resources to continue a project like this."

It was also necessary to occasionally stop construction so as not to disturb caribou migration.

"And we had to be very careful about old archeological sites on some of the old eskers. We always sent out an advance survey crew to plot out the road and make sure that we were respectful of the land and to create the least disruption to it," he said.

Though previously residents made it out to the lake on ATVs, having a road will make it more accessible, said Arviat resident Kevin Kalluak, who has a cabin on the lake.

"It's especially good if you don't have ATVs. As long as you have a vehicle you can access it anytime of the summer even if you don't have a four-wheel drive. You can take anything you want to bring with you. As long as you have a vehicle, you're sure to bring everything," Kalluak said.

There are downsides to the road increasing accessibility to the lake, said hamlet councillor Charlia Malla, who also has a cabin there.

"It's really good to have a road but since the road's been done, some things have been stolen," she said. "We've got a cabin with a little shack with things left behind for the next trip and they've been stolen since the road's been done and that's not fun."

The road should reduce the impact of ATVs going cross-country, said Murphy.

"By having the road the advantage is that instead of individual Honda tracks going all over - which can really decimate the landscape - it keeps the traffic concentrated on an actual road bed."

The cost of the road would be difficult to calculate, Murphy said, as it has been under construction on and off for so many years.

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