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Jan 2019 | January Issue

Transport Canada

Canada’s North is vast. Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut alone comprise 40 percent of Canada’s total land area.

Transportation is a lifeline for Canadians living in the territories. It’s also one of the key factors in economic development in the North, but there are huge challenges. Among them, the high cost of building new transportation infrastructure due to the region’s extreme climate, small and dispersed population, and high construction costs. Territorial governments also have a smaller tax base and much less revenue than provincial governments, giving them limited funds to invest in infrastructure.

As a result, even the most basic transportation infrastructure is still limited in the territories, which makes it difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to move passengers and goods in and out of Northern communities. To help address these challenges, the Government of Canada is supporting improvements to trade corridors that will transport goods and people, create jobs, and promote social development and greater connectivity for Northerners.

In the fall of 2017, the Government announced it was making special provision for the three territories through the National Trade Corridors Fund. The Fund is a core element of the Trade and Transportation Corridors Initiative and is designed to help infrastructure owners and users invest in roads, bridges, airports, rail lines, port facilities and trade corridors.

The Fund is a merit-based program that will provide $2 billion over 11 years to strengthen Canada’s trade infrastructure. Of that amount, the Government is reserving up to $400 million specifically for projects in Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

For this call for proposals, only projects located in, or studies focusing on the territories are being considered. Territorial and municipal governments, Indigenous groups, not-for-profit and for-profit private-sector organizations, and federal Crown corporations and agencies are all eligible and were encouraged to submit expressions of interest by January 15, 2019. Comprehensive project proposals are due no later than March 29, 2019. Eligible projects will support northern transportation infrastructure and enhance safety, security, and economic or social development in Canada's three territories.

The projects must also address the unique and urgent transportation needs in Canada's territorial North, such as access to markets, difficult terrain and climate conditions, and the high cost of construction along northern trade corridors. Consideration will be given to a project’s ability to support trade to and from Canada’s North.

In addition, all eligible projects must demonstrate that they have secured funding for those costs not funded by the Government of Canada. For projects in the territories, the maximum contribution will be 75 percent, with some exceptions. For projects with federal agencies or Crown corporations the maximum contribution will be 100 percent, and for public-private partnerships it will be 33 percent.

This money will be dedicated to funding infrastructure such as:

  • better runways and weather information systems at northern airports;
  • breakwaters and docking facilities for ships; and
  • all-season roads and bridges to reduce reliance on ice roads.

Last year, the Government of Canada announced a $102.5 million investment in the Government of the Northwest Territories’ Mackenzie Valley Highway project. This funding represents 73 percent of the estimated costs of the project, making it one of the biggest investments the Government has made through the National Trade Corridors Fund.

The Government has also committed $12.8 million to build an expanded cargo warehouse at the Iqaluit airport, which will reduce spoiled and damaged goods due to weather delays. As well as increasing capacity for climate-controlled dry goods and refrigerated products by approximately 75 percent, the warehouse is expected to have significant economic and employment benefits for northerners, creating an estimated 120 jobs during construction.

In addition, the Fund will provide $22.5 million to replace outdated and undersized airport terminal buildings in the communities of Kugluktuk, Naujaat, Kimmirut, Whale Cove and Chesterfield Inlet. This project involves engineering design, construction of new energy efficient buildings to reduce the carbon footprint, and demolition of the old buildings. It is also expected to have significant economic and employment benefits by creating an estimated 220 jobs during construction.

Improving transportation infrastructure is critical to the viability of northern communities. The northern call for proposals recognizes this. While transportation infrastructure needs in Canada’s three territories are varied and distinct, targeted investments can support projects that create quality middle-class jobs and boost economic growth and social development. They will also increase the resilience of the northern transportation system in a changing climate and ensure that it adapts to innovative technologies.

This is a time of tremendous opportunity, and the start of a new era of progress for the territorial North.


Featured Grants

Funding amount: $400 million
Eligible projects: Projects that address transportation needs to improve safety, foster economic and social development, and/or build on existing investments
Eligible applicants: Territories and municipalities; Local, regional and territorial entities; Indigenous governments; tribal councils and other forms of regional government; National or regional Indigenous organizations or development corporations; Public sector organizations; Federal Crown corporations or agencies; For-profit and not-for-profit private sector organizations; Universities and colleges
Deadline: Project proposals due Friday, March 29, 2019
Funding amount: $2 billion over 11 years, ending March 31, 2028
Eligible projects: Projects that improve the fluidity and/or performance of the transportation system to contribute to an increase in the value and/or volume of goods exported from Canada to overseas markets; and/or increase existing or generate new overseas trade flows as a result of the investment
Eligible applicants: Provinces and territories; municipalities and local, regional, provincial and territorial entities; Indigenous governments, tribal councils and other forms of regional government, national or regional Indigenous organizations or development corporations; public sector organizations; federal crown corporations or agencies; not-for-profit and for-profit private sector organizations; Canada port authorities; National Airport Systems airport authorities; universities and colleges
Deadline: Continuous call

Transport Canada’s mandate is to serve the public interest through the promotion of a safe and secure, efficient and environmentally responsible transportation system in Canada.