Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Senate proposes Northern highway

A Senate committee is proposing a 7,000-kilometre highway for transportation east and west across Northern Canada.

The Senate Committee on Banking Trade and Commerce released its report this week likening the project to the Canadian Pacific Railway that nearly bankrupted Canada to build from coast to coast as part of the Confederation deal to bring British Columbia into the fold.

The senators say a start should be made by paying $5 million to the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy and the Montreal-based Center for Interuniversity Research and Analysis of Organizations to research the project. 

The report says the corridor will help Canada diversify its foreign markets by allowing companies to ship their goods to tidewater ports in the North.

It will also spur economic growth, new job creation and provide benefits to Indigenous peoples and other northern residents.

Because the proposed national corridor would cross the traditional territories of a large number of Indigenous communities, the government must ensure they are actively involved from the beginning, the committee said. 

Their involvement in the corridor will be fundamental to its successful development.

In particular, the committee met with the First Nations Major Projects Coalition and the First Nations Financial Management Board who are in agreement with the plan as proposed by the committee.

“This bold and innovative project would create countless employment and economic opportunities for Indigenous communities, including through construction jobs, supplying builders and the acquisition of equity stakes in infrastructure projects,” the senators said in a news release about their proposal.

Other potential benefits of a national corridor include decreased traffic on southern highways and railways.  A corridor would also help Canada assert its Arctic sovereignty.