Two [resource] roads too late? – by Russel Noble (Canadian Mining Journal – February/March 2014)

Russell Noble is the editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication.

Sorry, but I find it hard to get excited by the recent news that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has broken ceremonial ground on a new all-weather highway from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk.

As much as I favour any infrastructure work the Feds are willing to pay for, I have to question why a 140-km gravel highway (that’s been on the books since the Diefenbaker years in the 1960s) now gets a push and will still be on the books until it’s scheduled to be completed in 2018?

Sure, the PMO’s office says, “The link that hooks up to the Dempster Highway running through the Yukon is expected to deliver many economic benefits and save northerners hundreds of dollars a year in shipping costs.”

BUT, and that’s a big ‘but,’ is saving northerners hundreds of dollars worth it because I can think of a number of other highway projects that would not only save money but moreover, help make it?

I know the new highway is what Prime Minister Diefenbaker envisaged more than 50 years ago as a way of improving the lives of the handful of people living that far north but really, is it honestly going to facilitate economic development the way Prime Minister Harper says it will?

Infrastructure, by definition, means in part: “The basic facilities, services, and installations needed for the functioning of a community…” and while the intent of the new highway will serve some of the needs of the communities of Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk, I question the timing of the project, even if it has taken five decades to get this far.
What About a Road Into Ontario’s Ring of Fire

That’s a road that should, almost must be built for the sake of “economic development” because like it or not, those vast resources buried in Northern Ontario are more of a key to Canada’s economic well being than anything the far north can offer right now.

As much as I like and understand many of the people who live and work north of the 60th parallel, the truth of the matter is that a road to viable resources is far more important than a ‘dream’ road to frozen reserves.