This is page numbers 6827 – 6882 of the Hansard for the 17th Assembly, 5th 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 assembly.

Topics

Question 957-17(5): RCMP Prisoner Transport Policy
Oral Questions

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the information and I certainly look forward to it coming before the dissolution of this Assembly, because I’ll have to wait until next term, if things all go well. In all fairness and in all seriousness, I’m asking for an evaluation of the cost effectiveness of the Government of the Northwest Territories paying RCMP to do this as an overtime job, an extra duty job, finding a couple of them, when we could be using our own resources internally through the sheriff’s office, so an evaluation and a little bit of a strategic look needs to be done on this. It’s not just I’ll go look and get the numbers. Will he be willing to do an evaluation on this possibility?

Question 957-17(5): RCMP Prisoner Transport Policy
Oral Questions

David Ramsay Kam Lake

To my knowledge, that type of evaluation hasn’t been conducted, but it may have and I may not be aware of that. Again, I’ll go back to the department, I’ll ask them and we’ll see what we can do. I know there are only 17 days left, so I will see what we can do.

Question 957-17(5): RCMP Prisoner Transport Policy
Oral Questions

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. Item 8, written questions. Item 9, returns to written questions. Item 10, petitions. Item 11, reports of standing and special committees. Mr. Hawkins.

Committee Report 26-17(5): Standing Committee On Economic Development And Infrastructure Report On Transition Matters
Reports of Standing and Special Committees

October 8th, 2015

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to report to the Assembly the Committee Report 26-17(5), Standing Committee on Economic Development and Infrastructure Report on Transition Matters.

Motion That Committee Report 26-17(5) Be Deemed Read And Printed In Hansard, Carried
Reports of Standing and Special Committees

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Nahendeh, that the Committee Report 26-17(5) be deemed read and reprinted in Hansard in its entirety.

Motion That Committee Report 26-17(5) Be Deemed Read And Printed In Hansard, Carried
Reports of Standing and Special Committees

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Hawkins. The motion is in order. To the motion.

Motion That Committee Report 26-17(5) Be Deemed Read And Printed In Hansard, Carried
Reports of Standing and Special Committees

Some Hon. Members

Question.

Motion That Committee Report 26-17(5) Be Deemed Read And Printed In Hansard, Carried
Reports of Standing and Special Committees

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Question has been called. The motion is carried.

---Carried

Committee Report 26-17(5) is deemed read and reprinted in Hansard in its entirety.

Introduction

As the 17th Assembly concludes, the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Infrastructure continues to monitor several issues and initiatives with long-term implications and to remain engaged with the vital themes of energy and devolution.

The next Assembly will be the first to inherit post-devolution responsibilities from territorial colleagues. These will require close consideration in the next committee. Energy and heating concerns also remain a priority, including costs of living and cost-effective power delivery, continuing low-water conditions and territory-wide dependence on diesel and other fossil fuels, the regulation of resource extraction, and the incorporation of renewable energies into our daily lives.

The committee recognizes challenges of the projected downturn in mining, prospecting and exploration. Going forward, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) has the opportunity to use its legislative, regulatory and economic strengths to increase community sustainability and self-sufficiency through growth in “green” jobs and in traditional and conservation economies, in addition to established industries. This will empower current residents, encourage much-needed population growth and foster economic diversification.

This report informs the public and Members of the 18th Assembly of work in progress and highlights areas we believe will require the continued attention of our successor committee.

Background

The Standing Committee on Economic Development and Infrastructure includes six Regular Members of the Legislative Assembly. The committee’s role is to consider the following matters with respect to the departments of Environment and Natural Resources; Industry, Tourism, and Investment; Municipal and Community Affairs; Public Works and Services; and Transportation:

1. review multi-year business plans and budgets, bills, and boards and agencies, including the Workers’ Compensation Commission of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, the Northwest Territories Power Corporation, the Northwest Territories Business Development and Investment Corporation and the Public Utilities Board;

2. review departmental performance, including that of boards and agencies; and

3. consider any other matter referred by the House.

Legislation and Regulations

Hydraulic fracturing has been a matter of great public interest throughout this Assembly. Our successors are encouraged to consider the committee’s Research Summary and Report on Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing, and seek an update respecting ongoing developments.

The committee also encourages our successors to pursue the merger of the Territorial Lands Act

and Commissioners Lands Act and to ensure that mandatory financial security applies consistently.

Interdepartmental Matters

Motion That Committee Report 26-17(5) Be Deemed Read And Printed In Hansard, Carried
Reports of Standing and Special Committees

Energy And Climate Change

Climate and Energy

Climate change continues to impact NWT people, landscape and wildlife, from shoreline erosion in Tuktoyaktuk to hunt-disrupting permafrost melt near Jean Marie River and from sweeping forest fire activity in the parched forests of the North Slave, South Slave and Deh Cho to record-low water levels across the regions. Climate change also impacts energy needs and capacity, affecting local and regional costs of living, barge transportation and community resupply, residents’ quality of life and GNWT spending and planning.

Energy charrettes held in 2012 and 2014 affirmed that stabilizing energy costs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and ensuring a reliable energy supply are among the top territorial priorities. It is necessary to continue the work of existing strategies and to develop an action plan specific to climate change. Such a plan would describe concrete actions and target dates toward ending reliance on and divesting from fossil fuels, implementing effective and enforceable renewable energy standards for industry and transportation, and assessing carbon pricing. While great strides have been made improving GNWT energy performance, further advancement is needed in helping residents, business and institutions make similar improvements.

Action is the order of the day. Recognizing the success of past energy initiatives (e.g., biomass capital projects and over-subscribed rebate programs), the committee stresses the immediate pursuit of initiatives with effects that can and will be measured both qualitatively and quantitatively. Members also highlight improved energy conservation as a key continued pursuit.

The committee particularly notes its support of the proposed Energy Efficiency Act and forthcoming discussion paper, the GNWT’s proposal to develop a territory-wide system for fuel data, and the Colville Lake solar-diesel-hybrid system. We highlight the need for additional and continued funding to the renewable energies Net Metering Program and the Renewable Energy Technology Fund, which was over-subscribed four months into the current fiscal year. Much-welcomed work on community funding formulas, particularly capital funding, would also do well to assess and account for climate impacts on territorial infrastructure

In the past twelve months, the GNWT has twice expended tens of millions of dollars in one-time subsidies to the NWT Power Corporation, while subsidy programs to address energy needs in the long term, like the Net Metering Program, consistently run out of funding. Additionally, community renewable energy infrastructure has been excluded from GNWT planning. The GNWT has committed to supporting international efforts to limit the increase in global temperature to below two degrees Celsius and our successors might consider how these factors will impact territorial policy and development.

Strategies for the Future

Both the Biomass Energy Strategy 2012-15 and the Greenhouse Gas Strategy for the Northwest Territories 2011-2015 expire this year. However, the GNWT’s goal of success in a low-carbon economy is as yet unresolved, while biomass projects continue to show great promise, particularly in the South Slave and Deh Cho. Similarly, though the Solar Energy Strategyconcludes in 2017, several goals remain as yet unresolved, while solar projects continue to grow in popularity and practicality. The committee urges our successors to recognize various renewable energy opportunities to reduce energy costs and our dependence on diesel and other fossil fuels, and to press for updated strategies and action.

The committee suggests visiting NWT biomass operations. We also note the Inuvik Storm Hills Wind Farm and the Yellowknife wind feasibility studies, and point to our work on the successful use of wind energy at the Diavik Wind Farm. We also flag waste management, including industrial and mining waste, for further consideration.

Departmental Matters

Environment and Natural Resources (ENR)

Motion That Committee Report 26-17(5) Be Deemed Read And Printed In Hansard, Carried
Reports of Standing and Special Committees

Forest Fires

While the 2015 season was not as severe as the previous year, it remains the second worst on record, with similar conditions experienced across Canada and in other nations. Forest fires are a natural part of our forests’ lifecycles, but fire severity combined with climate change, ongoing drought and severe environmental pressures on Boreal forests have serious implications for forest health and GNWT fiscal status. Approximately $99 million has been spent fighting NWT forest fires in the past two years, a total that does not account for related impacts, including human health, lost business, and service and transportation interruptions.

The committee encourages our successors to asses GNWT performance in the identified priority areas of public engagement, safety, and human resources, as well as the anticipated new air tanker fleet. Emerging opportunities associated with fires, including biomass operations, mushrooms and other non-timber forest products are also noted.

Motion That Committee Report 26-17(5) Be Deemed Read And Printed In Hansard, Carried
Reports of Standing and Special Committees

Mushroom Harvest

The 2015 morel harvest drew significant attention from pickers and buyers. The committee encourages our successors to actively foster these and other young, home-grown industries rooted in conservation economies and notes that future work on the Forest Management Act must address more than one type of mushroom or one category of forest resources.

Industry, Tourism, and Investment (ITI)

Abandoned and Suspended Oil and Gas Wells

The committee encourages our successors to press for further clarity on the number of abandoned and suspended wells under territorial jurisdiction, and to urge the development and implementation of an action plan for monitoring and management, including identifying and addressing leakages and site reclamation.

Members feel strongly that the number of wells and specific locations for each should be made public and further note the need to manage orphaned wells.

Commercial Fisheries

The next committee is encouraged to evaluate the Fresh Fish from Great Slave Lake

branding strategy and to seek an update on the fisheries business plan.

Diamond Potentials

The committee urges our successors to continue to press industry on socio-economic agreements and quotas for northern employment and contracting, and to monitor currently proposed expansions. Further, the committee has been eager for progress in the territorial diamond manufacturing sector, particularly Yellowknife-based processing plants, for some time, but with no result. Decisions must be made and action taken. NWT artisans and jewellery may prove a useful future focus for value-added diamond potentials.

Motion That Committee Report 26-17(5) Be Deemed Read And Printed In Hansard, Carried
Reports of Standing and Special Committees

The Economic Opportunities Strategy

The committee recommends that our successors pursue a thorough review of the Economic Opportunities Strategy (EOS) to clearly assess its costs, benefits and impacts.

Several other government strategies emerge from the EOS and the next committee will likely be interested in monitoring their progress, including but not limited to those discussed below. Notably, the committee’s review of the Mineral Development Strategy included a commissioned analysis by the Pembina Institute. We also encourage our successors to review the new China Strategy and Action Plan and to monitor the development of a new tourism plan.

Agriculture Strategy:

The committee highlights the matter of lease rates for Commissioner’s land used for agriculture and encourages our successors to press the department for timely development and implementation of the strategy itself.

Film Strategy and Action Plan:

The next committee is encouraged to meet with the new NWT Film Commissioner to discuss the commission’s direction and marketing strategies.

Oil and Gas Strategy:

This strategy is currently under development and the matter of oil and gas development, even during the current exploration downturn, is one of great interest to the committee and to the public, and with great potential impact on the NWT. The committee points to the report on public engagement on the strategy and encourages our successors to closely monitor developments, as oil and gas development carries great potential impact for the NWT.

Mines and Mining

Northern benefits are key: In 2014, fewer NWT residents held diamond mine jobs than those from other jurisdictions, increasing by nearly 50 percent, while the number of residents holding positions increased only 20 percent. The next committee may also wish to examine royalty rates and other opportunities for northern revenue. We also encourage our successors to pursue a full-cost accounting analysis of net benefits gained from NWT-based mines where the majority of wages leave the NWT.

Additionally, we recommend industry requirements for investment in and commitment to renewable energies to reduce diesel consumption. Wind farm technology has already been proven viable in the NWT.

Northern Workforce

Workforce readiness and GNWT worker retention are vital to territorial capacity for growth

The committee highlights NWT manufacturing and support for territorial businesses’ competitiveness in tender processes. We point to the NWT Business Incentive Policy and NWT-based providers of solar energy technology.

Northwest Territories Geological Survey

The committee suggests expansion of NTGS environmental geoscience projects, including baseline data collection; investigation of permafrost slumps, including resulting catastrophic lake drainage and water impacts; and petroleum work.

The Northwest Territories Mining Advisory Board

To maximize benefits to NWT residents, the next committee may wish to pursue further evaluation of the board’s composition and operation (e.g., expert representation in environmental regulation, poverty reduction, and Aboriginal affairs and governance).

Oil and Gas Exploration

The GNWT initiated its first call cycle for oil and gas exploration in October 2014 and lessons learned will likely be of interest. The committee also recommends a review assessing subsidies to industry, including a responsive action plan.

Lands

Recreational Land Use Framework

There is an ongoing need for a clear plan to address concerns with squatters in the Yellowknife River watershed and the Inuvik Airport Lake areas. Members also flag the ongoing matters of leases and sales along the Ingraham Trail and at Cassidy Point, and the collection of securities for all land-use sites.

Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA)

911 Services

The next committee is encouraged to explore service model options, inter-community disparity, costs and cost-management, and consultation with Aboriginal and community governments.

Sport and Recreation Funding

The funding structure for territorial sport and recreation is notably complex and the next committee is encouraged to seek a status update from the department.

Public Works and Services (PWS)

Departmental Reorganization and Energy Planning

The committee urges its successors to monitor the delivery of the department’s new responsibilities in energy planning, including the development of an Energy Efficiency Act, for which a discussion paper is expected near the end of the 17th Assembly.

Transportation (DOT)

Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway

We urge our successors continue to monitor the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway Project as it enters its third year of planned construction.

Motion That Committee Report 26-17(5) Be Deemed Read And Printed In Hansard, Carried
Reports of Standing and Special Committees

NWT Transportation Strategy 2015-2040

The committee highlights two long-standing infrastructure initiatives: the Mackenzie Valley Highway and potential infrastructure development in the Slave Geologic Province.

Additionally, airport repairs and the dredging of territorial rivers remain significant issues for several NWT constituencies. These include airports in Hay River and Inuvik as well as the Hay River and Tuktoyaktuk harbours. Loss of permafrost and storm surges are causing persistent damage, while drought and low-water conditions continue to impede marine transportation as well as the quality of the territorial waterways on which our small communities rely.

Conclusion

This concludes the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Infrastructure’s Report on Transition Matters. Members respectfully suggest that our successor committee consider requesting updates on the above matters from the Government, and wish them the utmost success in fulfilling their mandate.

Motion That Committee Report 26-17(5) Be Deemed Read And Printed In Hansard, Carried
Reports of Standing and Special Committees

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Mr. Hawkins.

Motion That Committee Report 26-17(5) Be Deemed Read And Printed In Hansard, Carried
Reports of Standing and Special Committees

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I know a lot of people are disappointed we didn’t read it in whole, but it’s now on the record in Hansard.