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With the aim of spurring northern economic development and ending regulatory gridlock on resource projects, an ambitious research project announced on Thursday will examine the feasibility of constructing a major new infrastructure corridor spanning Canada’s north.
The project is led by the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy and the Montreal-based Center for Interuniversity Research and Analysis of Organizations, and will look at the possibility of erecting a new network of roads, rail and pipelines, as well as investing in port infrastructure and airports.
The scholars and experts enlisted by the group will consult with the federal government and the provinces and write a number of research papers over several years, likely with a budget of around $1-million.
Jack Mintz of the School of Public Policy says Canada’s existing road and rail networks were constructed based on the premise of doing trade with the United States. But he adds that attempts to shift gears and build pipelines or infrastructure aimed at other markets have stuttered and encountered regulatory gridlock because there is no comprehensive national vision for how and where new infrastructure should be built.
“Today the world has changed,” Prof. Mintz says. “We have growing populations and incomes in Asia, Africa and Latin America. How do we get market access for all of our exports – agriculture, mining, potash, as well as oil and gas?”
The research project envisages a northern transportation corridor that would simultaneously allow northern resource industries – from Western Canada to Quebec – to reach tidewater, and foreign markets, in a cost-effective and efficient manner.
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