North

Proposed road to Whati, N.W.T., to get environmental review

The N.W.T. government’s next major highway project will go under the microscope for its potential effects on the environment, crime and drug and alcohol abuse in the remote community of Whati.

Review board cites concerns with road's potential impact on caribou populations, crime rates, alcohol abuse

What the environmental assessment does to the construction timeline for the road is unclear, as the N.W.T.'s Department of Transporation has not specified when it hopes to begin construction. (GNWT)

The N.W.T. government's next major highway project will go under the microscope for its potential effects on the environment and crime in the remote community of Whati.

The North Slave Métis Alliance requested an environmental assessment of the proposed 95-kilometre all-weather road from Highway 3 near Behchoko to the community of Whati, in the territory's Tlicho region. And the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board agreed one is warranted. 

The board cites concerns about a potential increase in crime and drug and alcohol abuse in the community, where the sale, possession and consumption of alcohol is prohibited. It also says the road will give hunters longer winter access to the imperilled Bathurst and Bluenose East caribou populations.

Timeline, funding TBD 

It's unclear what the environmental assessment will do to the construction timeline, as the N.W.T. Department of Transportation has not said specifically when it hopes to begin construction.

But the department has said it expects the road — with an estimated price tag of up to $150 million — will take four years to build. 

How the territorial government plans to finance the project also remains unclear, though it is seeking some money from the federal government.

The Tlicho Government, which strongly advocated for the road, is now providing its members monthly updates on the project.

Here's the board's full reasoning for the assessment.

 

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said no group had requested an environmental assessment. In fact, the North Slave Métis Alliance did.
    Jul 29, 2016 12:03 PM CT

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