The president of the Kitikmeot Inuit Association says his organization will not give up on the $554-million Grays Bay Road and Port (GRBP) project even though Ottawa recently rejected the Government of Nunavut's request for funding.
"We have been advancing infrastructure development and investment for a long time, starting with the Bathurst Inlet Port and Road Project in the early 2000s. As long as Nunavut remains isolated, Nunavummiut will not enjoy the same quality of life as other Canadians," KIA president Stanley Anablak said. "We won't stop until every avenue in pursuit of the successful development of this project is exhausted.”
The GN revealed last week that the federal government denied its $415 million request for support through the National Trade Corridors Fund, which consists of $2 billion for transportation initiatives in Nunavut, the NWT and the Yukon, to be spread over 11 years. If the funding had been approved, the GN and the KIA would have had to raise the remaining $138 million.
Despite the funding rejection by Ottawa, the KIA insists the Grays Bay Road and Port project is "well placed" to access funding through Transport Canada’s National Trade Corridors Fund.
"The need for transportation infrastructure that connects our region and territory to the rest of Canada is as great as ever," Anablak stated. "We continue to firmly believe that the GBRP will unlock
the opportunities negotiated in the Nunavut Agreement, originally signed by Premier (Paul) Quassa. The GBRP will facilitate responsible development that will help to ensure the future social, cultural and economic well-being of Inuit beneficiaries in the Kitikmeot region and to all Nunavummiut."
The proposed Grays Bay project consists of a deep-water port at the Coronation Gulf, in the central Arctic, and a 233-km road from the port to the former Jericho diamond mine. The route would also connect Nunavut to national highway and rail systems in the NWT via the Tibbitt-Contwoyto Winter Road. The infrastructure could kick start a number of mining projects, such as the Izok corridor, which have been dormant over the past decade, partly due to the high cost of getting the metals to market. Transport Canada spokesperson Pierre Manoni said the proposed Grays Bay project was one of many funding requests under the National Trade Corridors Fund, but it didn't align well enough with the program objectives.
They include: supporting the flow of goods and passengers by reducing bottlenecks and addressing capacity issues; helping the transportation system withstand the effects of climate change and ensuring it's able to support new technologies and innovation; addressing the unique transportation needs in Canada's territorial North to improve safety and foster economic and social development; and building on investments made by a variety of public and private sector partners.
Ottawa also rejected the GN's requests for National Trade Corridors Fund support for a Nunavut-Manitoba road and relocation of the Pangnirtung and Kimmirut airports.
The next call for proposals will be launched later this year, Manoni noted.