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Money for NWT port security

Erika Sherk
Northern News Services

Hay River (Nov 20/06) - Ports in the NWT will soon be more secure, thanks to a cash injection of nearly $356,000 by the federal government.

Brian Jean, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure, and Communities was in Hay River Thursday morning to make the announcement.
NNSL Photo/graphic

Brian Jean, parliamentary secretary to the federal Minister of Transportation, announces funding for the NTCL port in Hay River. - Erika Sherk/NNSL photo

"We must ensure our transportation system is protected by those who would attack our way of life," he said, speaking from the Northern Transportation Company Limited (NTCL) main office in Old Town.

In Hay River, $225,000 is to be used for patrol boats and security cameras, said NTCL president Dave Foster.

NTCL is the principal water transport company in the NWT, with nearly 5,000 kilometres of scheduled freight routes, according to its website. The funding is to help fund security requirements for ports, as laid out by legislation passed by the federal government in 2004.

Northern Transportation Company Limited has already met the requirements, said Foster. The funding will be used to cover some of the money spent meeting them, as well as to further enhance security, with the patrol boats and cameras.

Jane Groenewegen, MLA for Hay River South, questioned Jean on future costs the port might face to keep new security measures up and running.

"I understand it's necessary," she said, but added she hoped Ottawa would keep in mind they were "giving a little bit of money and then imposing a huge financial burden on a small community."

The government acknowledges that increased security measures cost smaller communities, said Jean, he added, however, it was worthwhile.

"What would be the burden if we had a Sept. 11 situation in Canada?" Jean asked.

The government is doing its part, financially, said Jean, by putting $115 million into Canadian ports and marine facilities over the next five years.

Hay River was one of a list of Canadian ports chosen to receive funding, said Jean.

In the NWT, NTCL is also receiving funds for their Tuktoyaktuk port. Up to $111,000 is available for security improvements there.

Hay River mayor John Pollard said the announcement meant more than just money.

"It's the recognition the federal government have placed on Hay River," he said, "that we are a major port and shipping area."

Often Northern communities seem to be overlooked by the government in Ottawa, he said, so he appreciated having a government representative make the announcement in person.