Behchoko public works garage to expand; Sachs Harbour to build new arena

The current public works shop in Behchoko has four bays. The community has been approved for funding under the Small Communities Fund to expand the shop. Photo courtesy of Larry Baran

Behchoko/Sachs Harbour – Nearly half of a $2.3-million investment from the federal government will be coming to Behchoko to help the community expand its public works garage.

The garage is currently a four-bay facility, which senior administrative officer Larry Baran describes as “small, old and crowded.”

With $1,159,000 coming from the federal government and $386,334 from Behchoko, the facility will be turned into a 10-bay shop.

“We’re going to be adding six bays,” Baran confirmed.

The money from the federal government is being promised through the Small Communities Fund. Baran said the town decided to apply for funding for the garage because of space pressures.

“When it was initially designed 15 or 20 years ago, the community government wasn’t responsible for water and sewer delivery, so there was no need for housing trucks,” he said.

“Now, we’ve got about nine trucks housed all over the place.”

Those trucks are each worth $200,000 to $250,000, he added, and need to be heated and maintained throughout the year.

“This new garage is going to be a real boon for us. It’s not only going to tie into the existing maintenance facility, but it’s going to provide safe housing for some very expensive equipment,” he said.

The town expects to break ground on the new facility this year. Construction will likely take place over the next two years.

The facility is being designed to be more energy-efficient. Baran said the town is working with Arctic Energy Alliance to move over from oil to pellet for their boiler.

“We’re excited about it,” he said.

“It’s going to be of strong benefit to the community.”

The project is one of four in the Northwest Territories that recently secured federal funding under the Small Communities Fund, which helps offset the costs of infrastructure projects in communities smaller than 100,000 people.

The federal government is also putting $494,000 toward a new arena facility in Sachs Harbour, $125,000 toward a multi-purpose outdoor recreational facility in Tsiigehtchic and $560,000 for upgrades to the hamlet office in Ulukhaktok.

The funds were announced in a joint news release from the federal and territorial governments on April 19.

NWT MP Michael McLeod stated in that news release the government recognizes how important infrastructure investment is for communities.

“Along with our territorial partners, we are proud to support projects like the ones announced today,” he stated.

Projects are paid for jointly by the federal and community governments.

Although the GNWT doesn’t directly provide funding to these projects, senior policy analyst Chris Hewitt said the department does provide $28 million annually through its community public infrastructure fund to communities in the territory.

“The community government can use their community public infrastructure funding, their portion of the $28 million,” he said.

“They decide how they want to spend that infrastructure money, and they’ll leverage that money with the federal money in order to make some of these projects happen.”

The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs also administrates federal infrastructure programs within the NWT such as the Small Communities Fund.

Mike Bryant

Mike W. Bryant is the managing editor for NNSL Media. He started working for Northern News Services as a general news reporter in 1999. He is the recipient of numerous national and provincial journalism...