Gas prices fuelled the debate at a candidates forum in Inuvik Thursday night hosted by the local Chamber of Commerce.
The town of Inuvik has two electoral districts: Dez Loreen and incumbent Alfred Moses are running in Inuvik Boot Lake in the territorial election Nov. 23; Jimmy Kalinek is taking on incumbent Robert C. McLeod in Inuvik Twin Lakes.
Fuel prices in Inuvik jumped 83 per cent in 2013, when two natural gas wells it relied on became contaminated with water and the town's distributor, Inuvik Gas, began trucking in more expensive propane gas. The spike has left many people struggling to pay their heating bills.
"Gas prices. It's a big concern. I hear a lot of it in town and that's a hard thing to deal with," said Kalinek on Thursday night.
The candidates all said there's not much the territorial government can do to lower the price. Inuvik Gas is a private company and the Northwest Territories Public Utility Board regulates the price of gas in the territory.
All of the candidates say the completion of the Tuktoyaktuk-Inuvik highway could make it cheaper and economically viable to drill another well that could bring cheaper gas to Inuvik and the surrounding communities again.
"A priority for me... with the highway coming up, is accessing these fuels locally," Loreen said.
"Regardless of how many pellet stoves you want to buy for your house, we're going to need gas."
Many residents and businesses blame the high gas prices for the town's economic downturn, which has left several empty, boarded-up businesses and houses in Inuvik.