More than $20 million is being invested to upgrade a 14-kilometre stretch of road between Tulita and Norman Wells into an all-season road.
The Prohibition Creek access road, between Canyon Creek and Prohibition Creek, is part of what the NWT government hopes will ultimately become the Mackenzie Valley Highway.
The highway – conceived to run from Wrigley to Inuvik – is a project costing hundreds of millions of dollars that the territory is trying to gradually piece together in sections.
In a joint news release, the federal and territorial governments said work on the Prohibition Creek road would be “completing a crucial piece of the eventual Mackenzie Valley Highway.”
The federal government is providing more than $15 million from a pot of green infrastructure money. The Government of the Northwest Territories is adding the remaining $5 million.
The governments say the road will make transporting essential supplies safer and more dependable; will create job opportunities through access to business, tourism, and recreation; and will give community members easier access to traditional hunting and fishing spots year-round.
Funding for the project is also considered a strategic investment by the governments. They say investing in road construction will create jobs as part of the NWT’s economic recovery from Covid-19.
“This road represents yet another link in the long-sought Mackenzie Valley Highway,” said Charles McNeely, chair of the Sahtu Secretariat, in a statement.
The highway is designed to eventually connect Sahtu communities along the Mackenzie River to the Arctic coast.
“[We] will continue to be a strong advocate for the Mackenzie Valley Highway and will work with the federal and territorial governments to see its construction for the benefit of all Sahtu residents and businesses,” said McNeely.