The federal government will invest more than half a billion dollars in a series of infrastructure projects across the Northwest Territories in the coming decade.
Federal funding of up to $570 million will help finance a wide range of projects across the territory. Each project can be funded up to 75 percent by the federal cash, with the territorial government contributing the remaining 25 percent – which means a total of around $760 million will be invested in total, between the two governments.
Specific projects were not named in Wednesday's announcement. However, the announcement split the funding into several broad categories:
$328,014,343 to "support projects that improve the quality of life in rural and northern communities by responding to rural and northern specific needs." Projects under this heading might reduce the cost of food, improve roads, make internet access better and cheaper, or make energy more efficient and reliable.
$26,187,414 towards "community, culture and recreation infrastructure to build stronger communities and improve social inclusion."
$208,230,295 to help climate change-related programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and allow communities to adapt to climate change, including helping access to clean air and safe drinking water.
$8,344,774 for Yellowknife's public transit system, including improvements to quality and safety, though no details were provided.
The territory is still hoping to receive another huge chunk of federal cash to help it build new roads like the Slave Geological Province and Mackenzie Valley Highway. The outcome of that bid for funding is not yet known.
— Amarjeet Sohi (@SohiAmarjeet) March 7, 2018
In prepared remarks, NWT infrastructure minister Wally Schumann said: "Nowhere is the link between infrastructure and economic prosperity as obvious as it is in the Northwest Territories.
"Transformative projects can happen today in Canada's North, and will give our residents the opportunity of economic self-determination."
With the agreement signed, Government of the Northwest Territories staff said they would now prioritize projects to receive this funding. Projects have to meet federal government criteria attached to each of the above funding categories in order to be eligible.
In recent years, the territorial government has consistently called for more federal investment in infrastructure. When he issued a news release declaring a "red alert" over the territory's future last fall, Premier Bob McLeod said the "urgent need" for such investment warranted a personal visit by the prime minister and his cabinet.