This is page numbers 1153 - 1196 of the Hansard for the 19th Assembly, 2nd 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 seniors.

Topics

Committee Motion 18-19(2): Committee Report 1-19(2) - Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on Long-Term Recovery: Recommendations to the GNWT - Business Incentive Policy, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1182

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member for Nunakput. The motion is in order. To the motion. Member for Frame Lake.

Committee Motion 18-19(2): Committee Report 1-19(2) - Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on Long-Term Recovery: Recommendations to the GNWT - Business Incentive Policy, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1182

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Thanks, Madam Chair. I feel obligated to say something about where we went with some of this stuff as a committee. Committees started to meet during the pandemic electronically. Of course, we were quite preoccupied by what was happening during the pandemic. We were trying to find ways to provide advice, recommendations to our Cabinet colleagues. Each of the standing committees has come up with its own report.

With this particular recommendation, I was a Member of the last Assembly, and towards the end, the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment did bring forward a report on procurement that was based on a survey of small businesses. One of the main recommendations was that there should be a review of the Business Incentive Policy and, more generally, procurement practises. That hasn't happened. I know it came towards the end of the life of the last Assembly, and perhaps we have been overtaken by the pandemic. I think we have heard numerous complaints as individual MLAs about the Business Incentive Policy, and thus, again, we are making this recommendation to move forward with a review. I certainly support this recommendation and timely action from our colleagues on the opposite side. Thanks, Madam Chair.

Committee Motion 18-19(2): Committee Report 1-19(2) - Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on Long-Term Recovery: Recommendations to the GNWT - Business Incentive Policy, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1182

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake.

Committee Motion 18-19(2): Committee Report 1-19(2) - Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on Long-Term Recovery: Recommendations to the GNWT - Business Incentive Policy, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1182

Some Hon. Members

Question.

Committee Motion 18-19(2): Committee Report 1-19(2) - Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on Long-Term Recovery: Recommendations to the GNWT - Business Incentive Policy, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1182

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Question has been called. All those in favour? All those opposed? Abstentions? The motion is carried.

---Carried

Member for Nunakput.

Committee Motion 19-19(2): Committee Report 1-19(2) - Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on Long-Term Recovery: Recommendations to the GNWT - Taltson Hydro Expansion, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1183

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Madam Chair. I move that this committee recommends that the Government of the Northwest Territories work with Indigenous stakeholders and define the Indigenous ownership of the Taltson Hydro Expansion; and further, that the government of the Northwest Territories lead interdepartmental efforts with project stakeholders to develop a plan that builds capacity among northern businesses to maximize the benefits from the construction project. Thank you, Madam Chair.

Committee Motion 19-19(2): Committee Report 1-19(2) - Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on Long-Term Recovery: Recommendations to the GNWT - Taltson Hydro Expansion, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1183

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member for Nunakput. The motion is in order. To the motion.

Committee Motion 19-19(2): Committee Report 1-19(2) - Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on Long-Term Recovery: Recommendations to the GNWT - Taltson Hydro Expansion, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1183

Some Hon. Members

Question.

Committee Motion 19-19(2): Committee Report 1-19(2) - Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on Long-Term Recovery: Recommendations to the GNWT - Taltson Hydro Expansion, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1183

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Member for Frame Lake.

Committee Motion 19-19(2): Committee Report 1-19(2) - Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on Long-Term Recovery: Recommendations to the GNWT - Taltson Hydro Expansion, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1183

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Thanks, Madam Chair. I will not be supporting this recommendation for a variety of reasons. I tried to work within committee to broaden the scope of the recommendation beyond the Taltson Hydro Expansion to look at building Indigenous capacity and partnerships in general to maximize benefits, which I certainly support. The work proposed in this motion is already underway, so I don't really see the need to make this recommendation.

Natural Resources Canada and Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada are providing $619,950 to "support Indigenous engagement" in the Taltson Hydro Expansion as announced in January of 2019. Committee did not seek information on the status of this work. I raised this issue when we were reviewing the supplementary estimates yesterday, and I look forward to receiving that information. I am also of the view that, in terms of critical infrastructure for post-pandemic recovery, Taltson expansion is not a priority and should not be a priority. It is not anywhere near shovel-ready and it will take years of planning, environmental assessment, and permitting before it is ready, if ever. The top priority for critical infrastructure should be improving the broadband Internet connectivity in all NWT communities to Canadian standards, and that is something that I believe the federal government is ready to invest in.

To be clear, I have always supported the use of currently available power from Taltson to build the South Slave regional economy, including use for space heating, electric vehicles, small-scale transmission lines to adjacent communities, and possibly even a submarine line to Yellowknife, depending on the outcome of ongoing studies. However, the full extent of Taltson expansion, we have not yet seen a business case for it. We haven't seen a full project description. There are no confirmed buyers, and I have serious doubts about the financial viability of the full expansion. The most recent cost estimates are over $2 billion, and a recent study showed that the Taltson hydro expansion is also the most expensive option per unit of greenhouse gas emissions saved.

There was a previous attempt at Taltson hydro expansion by Deze Energy. That corporation was one-third owned by NWT Energy Corporation, or the GNWT, essentially, and two-thirds by Indigenous development corporations. There was an environmental assessment of that project that started in 2007, and it was withdrawn in 2013. It's my understanding that about $17 million was spent on that project before it was withdrawn.

In any event, I believe that there are better ways to build energy self-sufficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create more jobs and benefits for Northerners than through the Taltson expansion project. So, Madam Chair, for all of those reasons, I will not be supporting this recommendation from the committee and this motion. Thank you.

Committee Motion 19-19(2): Committee Report 1-19(2) - Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on Long-Term Recovery: Recommendations to the GNWT - Taltson Hydro Expansion, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1183

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. Member for Yellowknife North.

Committee Motion 19-19(2): Committee Report 1-19(2) - Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on Long-Term Recovery: Recommendations to the GNWT - Taltson Hydro Expansion, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1183

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Madam Chair. I do agree with many of the sentiments expressed by my colleague from Frame Lake. One of the issues I struggle with is that expanding strategic infrastructure projects, including Taltson, was made a priority of this Assembly, it's in our mandate, and then therefore the government is working on it, and to me it is committee's direction to provide that direction on how to do that. I still think there are a lot of questions to be answered about Taltson, and whether we actually build it or find a buyer, I think, is the biggest one, but to me, what this recommendation really gets to is we've seen other large P3s built. We've even seen the Tlicho all-season road, an Indigenous P3, built, and we still don't get the northern labour numbers. We still don't get the Indigenous ownership that we should see from these P3s. To me, that is the specific wording that this recommendation really gets to; that, if we're going to be building these massive infrastructure projects, let's make sure we get them built by northern companies and employing Northerners. Ultimately, I will be supporting this recommendation coming out of committee, in support of it being a priority and a mandate item. Thank you, Madam Chair.

Committee Motion 19-19(2): Committee Report 1-19(2) - Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on Long-Term Recovery: Recommendations to the GNWT - Taltson Hydro Expansion, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1183

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Member for Thebacha.

Committee Motion 19-19(2): Committee Report 1-19(2) - Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on Long-Term Recovery: Recommendations to the GNWT - Taltson Hydro Expansion, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

June 11th, 2020

Page 1184

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

I will be supporting this recommendation because I think it's the only way to go. Laying the groundwork for the future economy is extremely important to not only the South Slave but the entire Northwest Territories, and the larger piece of the whole puzzle is that Yellowknife will get power from the Taltson, and all along the way, that they don't have now. Green energy is extremely important. Cutting the power bills so that there are going to be lower bills is extremely important. Setting the groundwork for future large proponents is extremely important. I'm very positive about the economy. I think this is a P3, and it is going to be owned by Indigenous people, and it doesn't necessarily have to be 25 percent. It might be 50 percent. Who knows the plan? I was part of the initial plans from the start, in the earlier years, and it's something that could be done, and I know will be done, and the people of the Northwest Territories support it. I think that it is extremely important that the expansion of the Taltson hydro move forward. Thank you, Madam Chair.

Committee Motion 19-19(2): Committee Report 1-19(2) - Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on Long-Term Recovery: Recommendations to the GNWT - Taltson Hydro Expansion, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1184

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member for Thebacha. Member for Hay River South.