- His favourite word was communities.
Last in the Legislative Assembly October 2011, as MLA for Deh Cho
Lost his last election, in 2011, with 36% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Mr. Speaker, we do have a huge deficit in terms of capital. It’s well over $2 billion if we were going to start to factor in all the needs across the Territories. We do have teams of staff that look at all the projects that come forward from the different departments and we do try to balance out our budget to try to allocate it on a basis where we can deal with the need that is most critical. We have worked out a formula where we have broken down the projects in terms of critical need, medium need, and the least need that would require attention. We try to invest our dollars along those lines.
We have tried to be fair when it comes to investment. For example, we invested, over the last couple of years, over $150 million in schools renovations and additions; $226 million into the area of airports, highways and roads; $82 million to various upgrades, including energy efficiency in our facilities; $57 million in hospitals, health centres; $56 million in the communities for community infrastructure; $57 million in the area of housing. There is a very good balance, and we have a team that monitors and provides oversight and we’ve also included filters within that process that has fresh eyes looking at the projects that are moving up the ladder until they’ve reached the point where the Minister of Finance and his team would make the final sign-off on it and bring it to the FMB for approval. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There was a barrage of questions in that preamble there. I’ll try to answer the best I can.
Mr. Speaker, the Member is correct; we’ve really taken the position that we needed to invest as a government with some funding that we were able to discuss and negotiate with the federal government to put into the economy of the NWT. We felt that the economy was in a slump across the country and we were not going to be exempt from it, and I think we’ve done very well. We were able to invest roughly $700 million in capital over the last two years in the area of infrastructure, and that includes several very large projects and it includes many, many projects that would be classified as small or medium, and the delivery has been going quite well.
We’ve been challenged historically with carry-overs. It’s an issue that we’ve been really focused on to deal with the level of carry-overs. I think by restructuring our capital approval process has helped us to alleviate that. We are also in a position where we now provide better oversight and don’t allow capital projects just to be parachuted as we move forward.
Things are going well on that front. We are seeing a downward spiral on our capital carry-overs and I
expect that to improve. I have to say, though, that we were challenged; a challenge that we’re very happy to see is the large amount of capital projects that we have undertaken to do over the last few years. There have been some issues around getting approval from communities. There have been some issues around design that communities want that don’t necessarily fit the budget, and we’ve been in positions where a number of times bids or estimates have come in a lot higher than we anticipated. This is all attributed to the number for the capital and, of course, the large amount of projects is also a factor. Thank you.
There’s a lot of ifs in that question that we need to resolve. First of all we need to see what is in the new federal budget. Does it include dollars for this section of highway that the Member is referring to. We also would need to see the results from the review board. We’d also require all necessary authorities, authorizations, permits. There’s lots of work to do. If there’s any work that would be done on the section of highway, it would probably be the final portions that need to be completed on the Tuk gravel access road that we’ve been working on for several years.
The answer is yes, there is a lot of work that still has to be done. We are planning a comprehensive summer program. The work that needs to be done includes fisheries studies, wildlife surveys, things of that nature. This information will supplement the work that’s already been done. We still need to provide that type of information to get our authorities and permits, and the things that we will require to move forward.
The project, in terms of where it’s at with the environmental review process, we expect that the draft environmental impact statement will be delivered to the review board by the end of the month. We also have information on that statement that provides details on engineering and environmental impacts. It’s a fairly large document, I think about a thousand pages, and very comprehensive. The statement also lays out the next steps. That includes initiatives such as public hearings.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Member is not wasting any time getting on top of the subject. The Minister was just announced, I think four hours ago.
We already, as I’ve indicated, have been working on a draft for some correspondence to go to the Minister. We are trying to encourage them to look to the North as a place for investment. There has been a lot of tension and there has been some good promises made during the last term of our government. We are inviting him to come to the Northwest Territories to meet with us. We’ve also asked for some time to sit down and talk to him about some of our priorities. We’re hoping that correspondence will go out ASAP.
Minister’s Statement 27-16(6): Inuvik Schools Project May 18th, 2011
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Department of Education, Culture and Employment, the Department of Public Works and Services is proceeding with the delivery of the combined schools project for the replacement of the Samuel Hearne Secondary School and Sir Alexander Mackenzie School in Inuvik. This combined facility is one of our largest building projects in the history of our government and will support this Assembly’s goal of healthy, educated Northerners.
Mr. Speaker, it’s only been 30 months since the start of construction of the Inuvik Schools Project and it’s already over 66 percent complete. As a result, I can inform Members today that the general contractor for this project has advised the department that this state-of-the-art facility could be open to students in the community of Inuvik in the fall of 2012. Mr. Speaker, this is a full school year earlier than originally planned.
The progress we see today is an example of what northern contractors, engineers, architects, tradespeople, business and government departments can achieve through working together.
This modern facility will accommodate up to 1,050 students from kindergarten to grade 12 in 54 teaching spaces. It will replace two schools that have reached the end of their service life. The completion of this new facility will help address a portion of the GNWT’s deferred maintenance deficit.
Mr. Speaker, the Inuvik Schools Project is progressing on budget and is providing significant economic opportunities for northern and for local businesses. To date, over 74 percent of the total expenditures for goods and services has been to northern contractors and suppliers, with 51 percent of total spending going to local companies as listed by the government’s Business Incentive Policy. Approximately 34 northern businesses have been involved with the project, with 22 of these businesses listed as locally owned.
Northern workers are also benefiting substantially from this project, with 53 percent of the workforce hired being northern and 46 percent hired being local.
Although the project’s delivery is accelerated, we’re diligently ensuring that it’s being constructed to the highest standards of quality and workmanship. This includes making sure that we deliver this government’s alternate energy efficiency priorities. Recent independent testing analysis confirmed our efforts, Mr. Speaker, as the Inuvik schools building is projected to be 56 percent more energy efficient than the model National Energy Building Code’s reference standard. Building projects to this high standard not only helps manage the energy costs of GNWT facilities but further advances our government’s greenhouse gas emission goals.
Mr. Speaker, improving the GNWT’s approach to support capital has been one of our achievements under the Refocusing Government Strategic Initiative. The Inuvik Schools Project is an example of how we can better deliver capital infrastructure projects that benefit our workforce and our economy. I look forward to the ongoing progress of this project in the coming year and hope to see its achievements applied to other projects as we continue with our vision of Northerners Working Together. Mahsi. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Bill 16: An Act To Amend The Motor Vehicles Act May 17th, 2011
Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Inuvik Boot Lake, that Bill 16, An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, be read for the second time.
Mr. Speaker, this bill includes amendments that make the use of a restricted electronic device while operating a motor vehicle an offence, unless it is designated as a hands-free device and used in a hands-free manner. Restricted electronic devices are to be prescribed along with who may use them. Certain classes of drivers are exempt or may be exempted under the regulations. The holders of learner’s and probationary driver’s licences may be further restricted or prohibited from the use of these devices by regulation.
The threshold for reporting accidents is raised from $1,000 to $2,000.
The registrar of motor vehicles is also given powers to refuse a certificate of registration, permit or driver’s licence or to cancel a licence for non-payment of fines pertaining to motor vehicle offences under the Deh Cho Bridge Act or Summary Conviction Procedures Act.
Minor amendments are also made to ensure consistency of terminology, improve clarity of expression, and confirm with prevailing drafting practices. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Bill 15: An Act To Amend The Deh Cho Bridge Act May 17th, 2011
Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes, that Bill 15, An Act to Amend the Deh Cho Bridge Act, be read for the second time.
Mr. Speaker, this bill amends the Deh Cho Bridge Act to:
remove references to the Deh Cho Bridge
extend to the registered owner of a vehicle the obligation to pay or arrange to pay a toll for the vehicle to be operated on the Deh Cho Bridge; and
authorize the making of regulations respecting the use of transponders and other devices for purposes of enforcing the collection of tolls.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
The realignment will be funded by the Federal Remediation Team and from the GNWT Giant Mine Liability Account. There
is no avenue to tie in a park with those types of resources. There has been discussion with ITI. I believe the department was not able to come up with the capital dollars for any type of camping services or camping facilities along this road. They may be able to do that at a later date; however, at this point we have not made any allowance for camping as part of this.
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