From: Renée Comeau,
executive director,
NWT Chamber of Commerce

Dear editor,

As we have two pivotal elections this fall there are few topics that can be agreed upon as to their importance to the whole territory with the exception of rejuvenating the economy.

A strong economy plays a role into every aspect of life in the North. Without a healthy economy we do not have a healthy workforce; the territory does not have the tax base to generate revenue to support much needed social programs; and generate the population base to create a diversified economy to name a few.

The largest contributor to our GDP outside of the GNWT is the mineral industry and with the mineral industry comes the ask of greener energy and reliable connectivity, neither of which we as a territory have accessibility to on our own.

Due to a severe infrastructure funding deficit over the last 40-plus years, the NWT is being faced with having to choose between reliable connectivity; affordable and clean power or all access roads from the federal government.

As a territorial population of only 48,000, we cannot be ratepayers and be expected by the federal government to build this magnitude of infrastructure which is country building.

The mineral and resource sectors will not come if we do not have energy efficient power. We have the opportunity to open up two of the three corridors to mineral and oil/gas rich regions with willing partnerships with the regional Indigenous governments.

Each one of these projects have some of the highest return on investment (ROI) than any transportation/infrastructure projects on the books.

For example, the Mackenzie Valley Highway currently has an ROI of 25 and Gray’s Bay not only would open up the access through the Slave Geological Province (SGP) but a deep-sea port is very advantageous to our largest exporter, Asia.

Though the existing mines will more than likely have closed by the time the road through the whole SGP is vehicle ready, there is undoubtedly a very mineral rich opportunity for another mining boom which can then rely on power instead of diesel generators.

All of this reducing our carbon footprint, as well as opening up access to reliable power and connectivity to communities, improving food instability through access to roads, skilled labour options and the list of benefits to the territory goes on.

As our focus moves towards greener renewable energy, resource extraction is starting to become more favourable as the average electric car requires 183 pounds of copper, 66 pounds of nickel and 18 pounds of cobalt.

Even each and every smartphone requires five to 20 grams of cobalt to operate. These are all minerals that we have in the North and need to find responsible resource strategies to move these mines forward as the demand grows.

It is very easy to say that the mines are demanding infrastructure from us but in reality the residents of the NWT need this infrastructure so much more than industry and we need to be raising our voices to that effect as this is one scenario where there is no chicken or the egg, it is all or nothing.

There are very few other industries that have invested as much as the mineral industry has into our social health as a territory and now, we can show Canada how together we can thrive with a strong, green economy and population.

Please think about all of this when interacting with candidates in either the territorial election Oct. 1, or the federal election Oct. 21.

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