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Pangnirtung's new small craft harbour, seen here last September, was the result of federal government infrastructure investments in 2008 and 2009. The New Building Canada Plan means $419 million for Nunavut infrastructure over the next 10 years. - NNSL file photo

Boost in infrastructure funding
More than $400 million earmarked for Nunavut over the next 10 years

Myles Dolphin
Northern News Services
Published Monday, February 24, 2014

The federal government has announced its largest ever investment in infrastructure with Nunavut communities standing to benefit from $419 million in funding over the next 10 years.

The money for the territory comes from the new Building Canada Plan, a $53-billion investment across the country from now until 2024.

The announcement comes at a time when many Nunavut communities are clamoring for a piece of infrastructure funding, whether it's for housing, airport or road-related needs.

Last May, Sanikiluaq's former senior administrative officer, Andre Larabie, lamented his community's housing needs were being ignored.

A few months later, Pangnirtung's former SAO, Ron Mongeau, talked about the urgent need to relocate the hamlet's current airstrip.

More recently, Pond Inlet's MLA Joe Enook made an impassioned plea to his colleagues at the legislative assembly in order to get his community a much-needed breakwater.

The $419 million in funding, spread evenly over 25 Nunavut communities, works out to be $1.68 million annualy each.

Mike Richards, SAO in Kimmirut, said he's not completely sold by the weight of the announcement.

"Usually these announcements are made, then they get watered down in delivery by committees and red tape," he said in an e-mail.

"It is hoping that more will come, our priority will be replacing the oldest airport in Nunavut. It is obsolete and worn out, an embarrassment to the GN."

In Pond Inlet, SAO Mike Rudkin has identified a number of buildings that could benefit greatly from additional infrastructure funding.

He said some buildings need serious elbow grease.

"The hamlet council has identified an old GN building to be used as a youth centre, a business incubator, a health/wellness/elder/learning centre," he said in an e-mail.

"It was our number one priority when we updated our Integrated Community Sustainability Plan for the GN. Also, after the fire marshal had done an inspection in December, it identified some electrical issues with our hamlet office building. After an electrician reviewed our options, we can't increase any breaker due to old wiring.

"So we have identified the need for a new hamlet office building. We also need to have all our roads in the hamlet upgraded to make them wider to accommodate the newer vehicles."

Rudkin said older projects such as getting the community a new jet strip, docking facility, breakwater and access roads remain outstanding.

Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq said the new round of funding builds on previous commitments made by the federal government.

"Our government has proudly made unprecedented investments in Nunavut's infrastructure," she said in a news release.

"Since 2006, Nunavut has benefited from more than $321 million towards infrastructure improvements across the territory. The New Building Canada Plan builds on the significant investments our government has already made in the North."

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