Canada’s federal government will spend CA$94.3M to improve Arctic sealift infrastructure

Ottawa will spend the money in Nunavut and Northwest Territories over the next five years.

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Sealift containers and other supplies from barges sit on the beach in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. A new federal program will help pay for, among other things, cargo laydown areas equipped with fencing and lighting. (Jane George / Nunatsiaq News)

Sealift operations in Canada’s Arctic will receive some badly needed infrastructure, thanks to a federal spending promise.

The improvements will come from the federal government’s $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan.

Ottawa will spend CA$94.3 million over five years to make Arctic resupply operations in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories “faster, safer, and more efficient for remote communities,” an April 16 news release said.

Unlike Nunavik, which has basic marine infrastructure in 14 communities, thanks to an $88 million program funded by the federal and provincial governments, Nunavut’s beaches have little docking or causeway infrastructure and few safety or security measures to support Nunavut’s growing annual sealift.

The money will provide infrastructure like mooring bollards and anchors, which can help ships and barges hold their position near the shore.

It will also help pay for cargo lay-down areas equipped with fencing and lighting, breakwaters to protect barges from waves while goods are being unloaded, and sealift ramps to make unloading easier.

The program will also provide training on how to use and maintain the new equipment.

“Our communities rely on it for fuel, building supplies, equipment, non-perishable food and dry goods. I am pleased that the federal government has recognized the importance of this life-line, and has created opportunities for us to work together to improve the safety and efficiency of our re-supply,” Joe Savikataaq, Nunavut’s minister of Economic Development and Transportation, said in the news release.

Transport Canada will accept project proposals from the governments of Nunavut and the N.W.T. until May 31.