Canadian Consulting Engineer

Corridor across Northern Canada could carry roads, rail and power

June 15, 2016

Researchers at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy and CIRANO have been studying the potential of a Northern Corridor right-of-way across Canada.

Andrei Sulzenko and G. Kent Fellows’ 81-page report was published by the university in May. They envision a multi-modal corridor far to the north of the existing east-west links. It would have contiguous space for road, rail, pipeline, electrical and communications infrastructure.

The route would be approximately 7,000 kilometres long and “several kilometres” in breadth, with a spur north to the Arctic Ocean along the Mackenzie Valley, thus providing access to ports on all three coasts.

Their concept has a route that follows the boreal forest in the west then heads southeast from the Churchill area to northern Ontario and the “Ring of Fire.” From there it travels to northern Quebec and Labrador.


They point out that the idea of a northern corridor has been discussed for almost 50 years, but has never materialized. In the late 1960s a private group led by Richard Rohmer studied a Mid-Canada corridor mainly for rail.

“Despite Canada’s relative lack of interest in the concept of an integrated transportation corridor, such corridors have been successfully implemented in other countries,” they point out. They say Australia is a good example for Canada “since it is a resource-based economy with vast tracts of sparsely inhabited territory.” An infrastructure corridor has been established in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, largely funded by private industry interested in exporting to Asia.

Sulzenco and Kent Fellows list many benefits that would come from the Canadian Northern Corridor:

– improved access for Canadian goods to alternative markets, and assistance with trade diversification

– enhanced regional development and interregional trade opportunities

– support for northern and Indigenous economic and social development goals

– support for Arctic sovereignty objectives

– mitigation of environmental risks through monitoring and surveillance

– reduced emissions intensity of transportation in Canada’s north and near north.

To read the report, Planning for Infrastructure to Realize Canada’s Potential: the Corridor Concept,” click here.



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