Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is with considerable pleasure today that I have the opportunity to announce in this House that a northern company has signed a major contract to design and construct a town in the former USSR.
The Department of Public Works has, during that time, cochaired with the USSR Minister for State Construction, GOSSTROI, the northern construction theme, one of four themes under the program. Following from their initial visits under the program, Ferguson Simek and Clark has undertaken to pursue further private ventures in the Republic of Yakut, which is in the far north of the Russian republic. With the assistance by the Government of the Northwest Territories, and in particular the advice and services of our director of circumpolar affairs, Mr. Walter Slipchenko, in Ottawa, Mr. Simek has been able to establish a joint venture.
Members have perhaps read in the local media that the joint venture company already has under construction a small wilderness hotel. The project has involved a number of other northern companies, and I am advised that the project is now in its final stages of completion and will soon be open for business.
Following this first success, Mr. Simek, with the assistance of the Department of Public Works, has been able to negotiate a contract to construct an entire town near the city of Yakutia. During these negotiations, the Minister of Public Works was very much involved in securing the confidence and approval of the republic's president. Last year, the Hon. Nellie Cournoyea, accompanied by the then Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, the Hon. Tom Buffers, visited Yakutia, where she signed a protocol with the president of the republic, That protocol outlines a co-operation between the governments of the Northwest Territories and the Republic of Yakutia which has allowed Ferguson Simek and Clark to strike this deal. The project will involve the joint efforts of several northern companies and the Department of Public Works. The municipal infrastructure and housing will be designed to NWT standards, using many of the plans and specifications developed through our capital programs.
Mr. Speaker, this success is but one example of how the government, and in particular Public Works, is working with the northern construction industry to advance their goals and objectives. It also indicates that our northern construction industry is maturing, and, as it does, they will look beyond our own jurisdictions for opportunities. Ventures such as these offer significant opportunity for Northerners, and the Government of the Northwest Territories must do what it can to preserve and assist in these opportunities. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.