Developing the North requires infrastructure, says report
December 21, 2011
By Canadian Consulting Engineer
A report by the Conference Board of Canada says that while building infrastructure in Canada's Far North is expensive, it is necessary if Canada is going to develop the region and attract private investment.
A report by the Conference Board of Canada says that while building infrastructure in Canada’s Far North is expensive, it is necessary if Canada is going to develop the region and attract private investment.
The report, Northern Assets: Transportation Infrastructure in Remote Communities,” includes a detailed case study of the Port of Churchill, Canada’s only deepwater Arctic port. The case study suggests that with substantial investment in transportation infrastructure around the community, Churchill could play an important role in Canada’s shipping industry.
The report says all modes of transport need to be addressed to deal with the region’s diverse trade and community needs. It suggests improved sea-lift facilities to serve the coastal and island communities of the north, and the investigation of new transport technologies “such as hybrid airships.”
The study also proposes there should be more all season roads, “such as the planned route to connect Rankin Inlet in Nunavut to the Manitoba highway system,” and more rail investment to maximize the potential of Churchill as a hub for import and export traffic.
“Building better connections to and between remote Northern communities is costly,” says the board. “The Northern climate adds to the ongoing costs of operating and maintaining infrastructure; while the low population density and low shared use of the infrastructure leads to even higher measures of cost per resident. Given the costs, transportation infrastructure may turn out to be the decisive factor in private investment decisions, especially for large, capital intensive and export-oriented projects.”
The report also gives six recommendations for policy-makers that include assessing the full value of infrastructure as well as its life-cycle costs, taking measures to adapt to climate change, and considering public private partnerships. It also recommends ensuring local communities are prepared for the impacts of development.
The report was produced by the Conference Board of Canada’s Centre for the North. Click here to access it.