Northern News Services
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA Robert McLeod would like the government to address the condition of the Dempster Highway before it disbands this fall.
"We're getting ready for the final session," said McLeod. "I've been getting some material ready to bring up in house. I've been spending the last few weeks gathering concerns from residents."
Robert Laurin, right, and his son Ben Deal recently drove to Inuvik along the Dempster Highway. Laurin said he has made the trip four times and noticed the road has been getting rougher. - Dez Loreen/NNSL photo
McLeod was at Inuvik's town council meeting on Aug. 8 to talk with the councillors about plans for dealing with the Dempster Highway.
"I took a few members from Yellowknife and drove to Tsiigehtchic in June," said McLeod.
"They couldn't believe the condition of the road."
McLeod said he has brought the issue forward a few times in the house.
"I've been getting concerns from people who have driven the highway that this is the worst it's been," said McLeod.
"We have 283 kilometres to the border. From here to Tsiigehtchic is dusty and narrow."
McLeod said he is aware that work is being done to the highway, but nevertheless, he is still hearing complaints from the public.
"They say it's in a terrible state," said McLeod.
McLeod said he invited Transportation minister Kevin Menicoche to drive the highway with him, but Menicoche went with another MLA.
"He went with Minister Krutko and I haven't been able to talk with him since then," said McLeod.
Menicoche said the highway is a priority for the GNWT.
"We're doing an ongoing reconstruction program on the Dempster," said Menicoche.
According to Menicoche, the GNWT has put $35 million into the Dempster since 1990.
"On top of that amount, we've also spent another $5 million this year and plan to spend another $5 million the next," said Menicoche.
The transportation minister added that the highway also gets $3 million from the department for operating and management costs.
"I was on the Dempster last week," said Menicoche.
"I can see how the constituents are concerned, we're working hard on this highway."
Menicoche added that most of the high trouble areas are in construction.
"A lot of the narrow places are being worked on," he said.
Rob Laurin was recently in Inuvik and took the trek on the Dempster on a cruising motorcycle with his son.
"It was a rough ride and there was a lot of construction, but I'm glad they're going through with it," said Laurin.
Laurin said that the Yukon portion near Eagle Plains has always been dusty, but he noticed a lot of new gravel past the territorial border.
"I've done the trip four times now, twice with the bike," he said.
Travelling the Dempster by motorcycle is something that Laurin is passionate about.
"It's challenging, but once you're here, it's all worth it," he said.