Much has been made about the potential economic benefits of the new road linking Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., to the rest of Canada, but the town’s mayor and the territories’ premier say they expect other benefits too.
The new $300-million highway across the tundra joins the Arctic Ocean community known as “Tuk” to the Inuvik, which is linked to the rest of Canada by the Dempster Highway. It’s the first time Canadians can drive from coast to coast to coast.
Tuktoyaktuk Mayor Darrel Nasogaluak says he’s already driven the new 120-kilometre road twice since it officially opened on Wednesday. Northern Lights are seen over the Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk highway in Inuvik, NT in this undated handout photo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / HO-GNWT- James MacKenzie) Construction happens on the Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk highway in Inuvik, NT in this undated handout photo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / HO-GNWT- James MacKenzie) Nasogaluak, who spoke to CTV News Channel while ice fishing on Saturday, says the highway is going to help connect families in the town of 1,000, which is 87 per cent Aboriginal.
“Our youth go to attend school in other communities, so (now) they can come home weekends and parents can visit them,” he said.
The road should also help reduce the extremely high cost of living in Tuk, because it will make it cheaper for stores to bring goods to the community.
“It’s going to be cheaper for produce for sure,” Nasogaluak said, noting that produce previously had to be stocked and stored for the times of year when both the ice road and river barge routes were closed.
Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod says that the he expects the road will bring more tourists to Tuktoyaktuk and that there may be long-term resource development opportunities, but it’s about more than that.
“If you live in a small community like I have, once the ice road is closed, you feel very isolated,” he told CTV News Channel.
“Now, if you want to go anywhere in Canada, you can drive out,” McLeod added. “So it really gives you a feeling that you’ve got much more freedom.”
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