Feds, territory announce $20M for all-season road near Norman Wells

The new road will add 14 kilometres onto the current all-season Canyon Creek access road, replacing a portion of the seasonal Mackenzie Valley Winter Road.

Road will extend all-season Canyon Creek access road by 14 km

A sign, in 2019, advertising a $20 million federal investment in a section of all-season road outside Norman Wells, which would eventually become part of the Mackenzie Highway (John Last/CBC)

The winter road that connects the communities of the N.W.T.'s Mackenzie Valley will be a little shorter in years to come, thanks to a $20 million joint investment from the territorial and federal government.

A press release from Infrastructure Canada announced the investment Friday. The money will be spent upgrading a portion of the seasonal Mackenzie Valley Winter Road outside Norman Wells, N.W.T., from Canyon Creek to Prohibition Creek, into an all-season road.

The press release calls the segment "a crucial piece of the eventual Mackenzie Valley Highway," a proposed all-season highway from Fort Simpson to Colville Lake, N.W.T., that has been in the works for more than 40 years.

"This road represents yet another link in the long-sought Mackenzie Valley Highway," Charles McNeely, chair of Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated, a land claim group, is quoted as saying in the release. "[We] will work with the federal and territorial governments to see its construction for the benefit of all Sahtu residents and businesses."

The federal government is contributing $15 million to the project through its $180 billion, 12-year Investing in Canada infrastructure plan, of which $2 billion is earmarked for spending in rural and northern communities. The territory is contributing an additional $5 million.

Department of Infrastructure truck at a lookout on the Mackenzie Valley Highway. The new money will be spent upgrading a portion of the seasonal Mackenzie Valley Winter Road outside Norman Wells, N.W.T., from Canyon Creek to Prohibition Creek, into an all-season road. (John Last/CBC)

In remarks attached to the press release, N.W.T. Infrastructure Minister Katrina Nokleby is quoted as saying that "projects like the Prohibition Creek Access Road will play a significant part in the recovery of the Northwest Territories post-COVID-19."

"The roadway will make transporting essential supplies safer and more dependable. It will create economic and job opportunities, with access for business, tourism, and recreation," the release reads.

"The road will also provide community members with better access to traditional hunting and fishing areas all year long."

The extension adds onto the Canyon Creek access road, a 14.5 kilometre all-season, high-grade road heading south from Norman Wells. Also costing $20 million, it was completed in 2018, two years after the project began.


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