TUKTOYAKTUK, N.W.T. — A new highway in Canada’s north is
expected to have a positive economic impact on the region, including the
trucking industry that services the area.
The gravel, all-weather highway is located primarily within the
Inuvialuit Settlement Region and stretches 138km, linking the
communities of Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk.
Greg Hanna, communications coordinator for the N.W.T.’s department of
transportation, said the new highway means more steady movement of
goods into the region.
“Canada’s first highway to the Arctic Ocean connects the Hamlet of
Tuktoyaktuk to the territorial all-season highway system,” Hanna said.
“Previously, goods could only be trucked in during certain months of the
winter when the ice road was open. This new highway allows for the
movement of goods year-round, while allowing for new economic
According to the “Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk: All-Weather Road Economic
Analysis,” the new highway will reduce transportation costs with the
move from air to truck transport by $456,000. The reduction in costs
will lower the cost of food in Tuktoyaktuk, which will increase the
standard of living for residents and enable the savings in
transportation costs to be redirected to other goods and services, also
The highway essentially allows for the elimination of the food mail
program, which subsidizes the shipping costs of nutritious food by air
to approximately 135 northern communities that have limited access by
The economic analysis concludes that the termination of the food mail
program in the region would have a negative impact on flights and a
slight impact on the local trucking industry, with the net impact a
$500,000 reduction in transportation industry revenues.
The report does state, however, that the majority of Tuktoyaktuk
residents would choose to drive to Inuvik in order to do their shopping,
which would lessen the impact from additional trucking in the area.
Less-costly goods, as well as cheaper services, such as dental care and
restaurant food, would continue to be a benefit to the area.
It is estimated that there are at least 400 pieces of food mail sent
to Tuktoyaktuk each month for a minimum of 4,800 per year, or
approximately 160,000lbs. of food. Transport costs by plane between
Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk are $3/lb., resulting in an estimated $480,000 in
food mail costs. The new highway allows these goods to be transported
by truck at a reduced cost of $0.15/lb., which will bring an addition
$24,000 of revenue to the local trucking industry.
Hanna underscored additional benefits the new highway has brought to
the area and its residents, including training opportunities.
“Examples include training for Class 1 and Class 3 drivers, equipment
operators, summer students, and apprentices,” he said. “Not only was
construction of the highway an economic boon to the region, we also
expect long-term employment opportunities for residents.”
One of those expected long-term employment opportunities is in the oil and gas sector.
Hanna said the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation is currently seeking
federal funding to study the possibility of developing gas fields along
the new highway.
Overall, there were four economic impacts assessed with the
construction of the year-round highway: building and maintaining the
road; an increase in tourism; a reduction in the cost of living; and
potential impacts on the Mackenzie Gas Pipeline, including natural gas
exploration and development in the
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