This is page numbers 1899 – 1936 of the Hansard for the 17th Assembly, 4th Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was communities.

Topics

The House met at 1:32 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Deputy Speaker Jane Groenewegen

Good afternoon, colleagues. Before our proceedings start this afternoon, it is my pleasure to recognize some folks visiting in the visitors gallery this afternoon. I’d like to recognize the following members of the Conservative Party’s Northern Caucus who are meeting in the NWT this week. First of all, former leader of this government, Government of the Northwest Territories, and now Senator for Nunavut, the Honourable Dennis Patterson. Welcome.

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Nunavut Member of Parliament, Minister of Health and Minister for the North, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq…

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…who I understand was once a Page in this Assembly.

---Laughter

See? It all started here. The Yukon Member of Parliament Ryan Leef.

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Yukon Senator, the Honourable Dan Lang.

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Also with the Northern Caucus today are Sandy Lee, Minister Aglukkaq’s regional director of NWT, and former Minister and Member of this House.

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Donna Richardson, executive assistant to Senator Lang.

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This is something that the Clerk’s office didn’t prepare me for. I don’t know how to pronounce this name. I’m really sorry. Minister Aglukkaq‘s regional director for Nunavut, Elisapee Sheutiapik. Thank you.

---Applause

I apologize if I did not get that correct. A very warm welcome to the Assembly here today.

On to the orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of Public Works and Services.

Minister's Statement 13-17(4): Wood Pellet Boiler System Installations
Ministers’ Statements

Great Slave

Glen Abernethy Minister of Public Works and Services

Thank you, Madam Speaker. In support of this government’s vision of an environmentally sustainable and prosperous Northwest Territories, the Department of Public Works and Services recently installed four more biomass heating systems in Fort Providence, Yellowknife, Behchoko and Fort Simpson.

In November Public Works and Services installed a new wood pellet boiler at the Combined Services Building at the Yellowknife Airport. This is the fifth such system the department has installed in Yellowknife, and it is expected to save the GNWT approximately 256,000 litres of fuel oil a year for an estimated annual savings of $130,000.

Elizabeth Mackenzie Elementary School in Behchoko and Deh Gah School in Fort Providence are also benefitting from this technology. Together the wood pellet boilers installed at these schools will eliminate the need for over 170,000 litres of fuel oil a year and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 474 tonnes annually. The savings achieved by using biomass systems at these schools is expected to surpass $117,000 annually.

Earlier this year Fort Simpson’s central heating system started to operate full time on a new wood pellet boiler. This system links the community recreation complex, Bompass Elementary School and Thomas Simpson School to one boiler system. It will be able to accommodate expansion tie-ins to help heat other nearby buildings like the GNWT office building over time. Once fully operational, the system has the ability to displace up to 356,000 litres of fuel oil a year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an additional 971 tonnes per year.

Like the Fort Simpson system, the wood pellet boiler installation at Elizabeth Mackenzie School in Behchoko was also designed to serve multiple buildings. This installation will be able to provide

heat to the community’s sports complex and a future NWT Housing Corporation project.

Madam Speaker, these projects mark an important development in our approach to biomass technology. By designing systems that can serve multiple buildings, our government is better positioned to maximize our investment in energy efficient technologies like biomass.

These four newest wood pellet boilers are expected to save over $400,000 annually, savings that will grow should they be expanded. There are currently 20 government buildings benefitting from this technology, including our very own Legislative Assembly Building, which has contributed to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 25,000 tonnes since 2007-08, saving the GNWT an estimated $3.9 million total through the Capital Asset Retrofit Fund. This is effective, efficient use of public infrastructure that maximizes value while being environmentally sustainable.

Next, biomass projects are planned for the new health centres in Fort Providence and Hay River, the new office building in Yellowknife, and five buildings in Norman Wells: the new health centre, the long-term care facility, Mackenzie Mountain School, the airport terminal and the Combined Services Building.

The benefits of investing in biomass and other alternative energy technologies continue to speak for themselves, and I look forward to providing Members with updates on these projects as they progress. Thank you.

Minister's Statement 13-17(4): Wood Pellet Boiler System Installations
Ministers’ Statements

The Deputy Speaker Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Minister Abernethy. Item 3, Members’ statements. The honourable Member for Sahtu, Mr. Yakeleya.

Hydraulic Fracturing And Shale Oil Exploration In The Sahtu
Members’ Statements

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Shale oil resources promised to secure our energy future and has the potential to change the North forever as the Northwest Territories grapples with the applications for horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking required to tap in to these resources.

We have to weigh the pros and the cons of this technology. The basic drilling and fracturing process has a long history in the oil and gas industry. Experienced drillers and engineers can’t predict a well’s requirements and impacts. Technology is constantly improving. Industry has demonstrated an improvement in using less water and fewer harmful chemicals. Canadian producers are moving towards full disclosure of fracking fluid. Proper well casing and cementing prevents groundwater contamination. Once a well is drilled,

crude oil can flow up to 20 years. The economic benefits we could achieve through hydraulic fracking and development of the northern shale resources under careful regulations and controlling pace and scale could outweigh many of the risks, as the risks are huge, Madam Speaker.

In central Mackenzie Valley, shale play is considered a frontier development because previous oil and gas production is so limited here. The Northwest Territories has an abundance of water resources. We are the stewards of these resources. Our elders have always told us if we take care of the land, it will take care of us. Currently, we don’t have the capacity to deal with the wastewater from drilling and the long-term impacts of disposable wells are unknown.

If gas was to flow, even in the early stages, the existing Enbridge pipeline would have to be twined. There’s still no all-weather road into the Sahtu region. We can guess the impacts of hydraulic fracturing based on what we see in other places, but we cannot predict the real long-term impacts on the land, the animals, the lakes and rivers of the Sahtu.

We don’t have to look any further than boom towns like Fort McMurray, Alberta, or Fort Nelson, BC, to see some of the social effects of fast-paced development. This winter we have seen how exploration alone stretches the capacity in our communities. Mental health and addiction issues are the barriers to local Sahtu people in benefitting from development. Successful and responsible development of the Mackenzie Valley shale oil play will require focusing on the Mackenzie Gas Project in terms of government resources.

Hydraulic Fracturing And Shale Oil Exploration In The Sahtu
Members’ Statements

The Deputy Speaker Jane Groenewegen

Mr. Yakeleya. Your time for your Member’s statement has expired.

Hydraulic Fracturing And Shale Oil Exploration In The Sahtu
Members’ Statements

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

[Microphone turned off.]

Hydraulic Fracturing And Shale Oil Exploration In The Sahtu
Members’ Statements

The Deputy Speaker Jane Groenewegen

Mr. Yakeleya, could you please make that request again on the record.

Hydraulic Fracturing And Shale Oil Exploration In The Sahtu
Members’ Statements

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

Madam Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Hydraulic Fracturing And Shale Oil Exploration In The Sahtu
Members’ Statements

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

The Government of the Northwest Territories has been called upon to develop a policy on hydraulic fracking that recognizes the pros and cons of this technology. We must move forward on this important work to guide responsible decision-making in the future. The people of the Northwest Territories and the people of the Sahtu deserve nothing less. Thank you.

Hydraulic Fracturing And Shale Oil Exploration In The Sahtu
Members’ Statements

The Deputy Speaker Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Mr. Yakeleya. The honourable Member for Nahendeh, Mr. Menicoche.

Community Wellness Program Funding
Members’ Statements

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. I just wanted to speak about community wellness plans in the riding of Nahendeh today.

I was pleased to see each of the communities I visited on my January tour were telling me about the communities’ wellness plans, and the communities have done a lot of work getting it together, but I think it’s now time for government to do theirs.

They spoke to me about the continuous need for funding resources, most particularly when it comes to travel. The small, remote communities have additional costs of air charters and utilizing the local hotels.

In larger communities, programs like the $500,000 Wellness Program will go a lot further in Yellowknife than a community like Trout Lake or Fort Liard or Nahanni Butte. I just wanted to let my colleagues on the other side of the House know, as we move forward and start to fund our community wellness plans, we’re going to have to make special arrangements to ensure that travel costs are taken into account.

Community Wellness Program Funding
Members’ Statements

The Deputy Speaker Jane Groenewegen

Thank you, Mr. Menicoche. The honourable Member for Frame Lake, Ms. Bisaro.

Implementation Of 911 Telephone Service
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I must revisit a service need that this government has been ignoring for too long. The NWT needs 911 phone service.

In a 2009 City of Yellowknife feasibility study, a study in which the GNWT was a full participating member, the recommendation was that 911 service should be established in seven of our 33 communities to start and that it be expanded to the other 26 communities as soon as possible. Now, more than three years later, there’s been no action on this issue and it is crucial that this government recognize and accept our duty to assist the City of Yellowknife in the establishment of this service.

The need for 911 has been talked about for over 15 years. The City of Yellowknife has completed not one but two studies as they try to solve the implementation riddle. As far back as 2001, the NWT chief coroner articulated the need for 911 service and attributed a death in 2000 to the lack of 911 service.

When I brought this up in the House in 2009, I heard the MACA Minister of the day advise that the government would only be involved in the implementation of 911 service if the service was

provided to all communities in the NWT at the same time. Well, that argument will soon be invalid.

Since 2005, thanks to the NWT Broadband Project, 19 NWT communities have received enhanced broadband Internet services, and over the next two years a partnership between Infrastructure Canada, NorthwesTel and Falcon Communications will bring 3G mobile Internet services to 25 communities in our territory. Eighty-five to 90 percent of NWT residents will have cell phone service in their community in two years’ time.

A stated goal of this Assembly is sustainable, vibrant, safe communities. The best way for this Assembly to accomplish that goal is to plan for and fund the implementation of 911 service in the recommended seven communities. A phased-in approach still makes the most sense. With financial assistance from the GNWT, we can start now in those communities that already have the appropriate infrastructure and not deny the majority of NWT residents a much needed public safety service.

We have to bite the bullet and do the right thing. The City of Yellowknife is still willing to take the lead. The GNWT must partner with the city and get the implementation of 911 service on its way.

I will have questions for the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs at the appropriate time.