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Money for upgrades welcomed
Federal infrastructure funding supports water, sewage, road improvements

Kirsten Fenn
Northern News Services
Monday, January 30, 2017

Yellowknives Dene First Nation Chief Edward Sangris says his community's fire hall is "inadequate" when it comes to providing the emergency services his residents need.

Despite the fact there are no fire hydrants in Dettah, the community uses a fire truck designed to hook up to hydrants to pump water.

"If anything happens, we have to hook up to the water truck to pump water to the fire truck," Sangris said.

Not only that, he said, but the fire truck is too big to store in the community fire hall.

That's about to change after the federal and territorial governments announced more than $15.8 million for 11 infrastructure improvement projects across the NWT on Jan. 27.

Dettah is one of several communities that will benefit from a chunk of the money, which is meant to create employment and improve living conditions in the North, according to a news release from the GNWT and federal government.

Municipal and Community Affairs Minister Caroline Cochrane and MP Michael McLeod made the announcement in Fort Smith.

"By investing in modern and efficient infrastructure, we will help create good, well-paying jobs while improving the quality of life for all residents," McLeod stated in the release.

The federal government is expected to contribute $8,569,000 to the projects, while community governments will contribute $7,297,334, for a total of $15,866,334.

The federal money comes from the Gas Tax Fund and the Small Communities Fund, which supports infrastructure in communities of less than 100,000 people.

The announcement is part of the federal government's promise to deliver more than $180-billion in funding for transit, green and social infrastructure, and rural and northern communities over the a 12-year period.

Among the top funding recipients is Fort Simpson, which will receive more than $1.1 million in federal money to upgrade its recreation centre. Fort Smith is expected to receive nearly $2.5 million to renovate its recreation and community centre, while Fort McPherson is set to get almost $3 million to upgrade its arena and replace its community hall.

Other projects that are being funded involve waste management, water reservoir upgrades and road improvements.

Yellowknives Dene First Nation will receive $125,000 in federal money on top of an approximately $1.3-million community contribution for its fire hall expansion.

Sangris said Dettah is in "dire need" of the funding, and that the money will go toward expanding the fire hall and possibly the purchase of a new fire truck.

"It's long overdue," Sangris said. "Safety comes first for our members and I think a lot of people are happy with it, because now they can relax and rest in comfort knowing their emergency services are adequate."

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