The Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, P.C., M.P., Minister of Infrastructure and Communities
September 26, 2017
Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: Welcome, Mr. Minister. I want to thank you for visiting Nunavut in the spring.
I’d like to seek your views on the funding of the Grays Bay Road and Port Project in Nunavut. I think you are well familiar with this nation-building project, which is the most advanced project in Nunavut having entered into the environmental assessment process in August. It is being jointly led by the Kitikmeot Inuit Association and the Government of Nunavut. This was recognized as the best trade corridor opportunity by the Canada Transport Act independent panel review.
I believe you also know that my Inuit constituents have been working tirelessly making the rounds in Ottawa, speaking to your staff and other ministry staff, including Transport Canada and Indigenous Affairs.
Most of the audiences have appreciated that this project addresses many of your government’s priorities, including responsible resource development, Arctic sovereignty, facilitating reconciliation with Aboriginal groups and fostering improvements in the quality of life for Nunavut’s lower and middle class.
The project has submitted an expression of interest to Transport Canada’s National Trade Corridors Fund, and it’s cleared to submit a full business case that they’re working on for presentation prior to the November 6 deadline.
I do appreciate very much that your government is recognizing the infrastructure and financial capacity shortcomings in Nunavut by your willingness to fund 75 per cent. I also noted the recent major commitment to Yukon for highways that was recently announced. You’ve also recognized the importance of trade corridors, having allocated $2 billion to Transport Canada and $5 billion through the infrastructure bank in what seems to be a yet-to-be-clearly-determined program.
How might the Grays Bay project get funded, given these various avenues?
Hon. Amarjeet Sohi, P.C., M.P., Minister of Infrastructure and Communities: Thank you, senator, for asking that question, because this is a very important project for Nunavut. I have met with the ministers responsible — my counterparts — a number of times. I also met with the KIA on this, and they have been in regular contact with my office.
There are a number of ways that project can move forward. We will be negotiating bilateral agreements with the territory. I can give you the amount of funding that has been allocated or will be allocated: They will get close to $207 million under the green infrastructure funding, about $32 million under the Canada Cultural Investment Fund and about $152 million under the Rural and Northern Communities Infrastructure fund. We have also created an Arctic Energy Fund. Under that, the territory will receive $175 million.
Along with that, they also have access to the Federal Gas Tax Fund, which is not a large amount of money. I recognize that.
They also had conversations with us about having the Infrastructure Bank look at this project. It is a very large project. It is connected to trade and transportation. It has the potential to open up resource development opportunities.
There are many ways this project can be advanced, but the decision has to be made by the territory. They have to prioritize this project under these infrastructure plans based on what their other needs are. But we will continue to explore options with them, and the Canada Infrastructure Bank could potentially be one of those options if they give that project for the bank to evaluate.