Bernadette Jordan says she sees the NWTs unique challenges revolving around transportation corridors and infrastructure.
“The ice roads and transportation corridors: making sure people are able to get to and from where they are able to be when you have a road that melts,” she says. “Infrastructure in general, has to be upgraded. It’s one of the things in the North that is very different. It’s been a long time since we’ve has had a significant investment.”
The newly appointed federal Minister of Rural Development says she also heard from locals about infrastructure – roads and bridges – as well as social infrastructure, specifically affordable housing.
“A lot of housing is at its life expectancy, a lot of housing is not meeting the needs of the communities. There’s also the challenge with people, we’ll use a mine for example, who are flying people in and out because there aren’t places for them to stay. Those are all things that are deterrents to growth.”
Other challenges include access to broadband and cell phone coverage.
Jordan is in Yellowknife for an announcement of $25-million federal dollars for the City of Yellowknife’s water pipe replacement project.
She says she has met with the territory’s chamber of commerce and others to inform a rural economic development strategy being developed by her ministry.
“Plans are developed, but they’re developed for places south of 60 basically,” she says of the feedback she heard from the chamber. With this in mind, Jordan says her strategy, as well as legislation and funding need to meet the needs of the North.
Jordan did not give any specifics about funding or projects for NWT communities to come out in the months before the October federal election.