A research program from the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary was set to hold a public meeting to gather input on infrastructure corridors in the North Tuesday, Nov. 1 in Rankin Inlet.
“It would include anything like roads, rail lines, telecommunications lines, electricity transmission lines, pipelines – anything like that that’s used to move people or goods or information around the country,” explained Dr. Kent Fellows about the Canadian Northern Corridor Research Program.
Research has been going on since 2015 but it’s only in the last 12 to 18 months that organizers have been able to seek feedback from communities.
Fellows explained that Canada has several infrastructure corridors in the south, and a few north-south connections, but very few east-west connections across the North. The group is also researching the feasibility of setting up “multi-modal” infrastructure corridors, meaning building one right-of-way to house energy, transportation, internet and more.
A difference with this type of research in the North versus south is that conversations in the south tend to focus on adding links and building redundancy into existing systems, whereas the farther North you go, the more it’s a discussion about building the first corridor at all.
“It’s much more a discussion about new connectivity, not just improving what they’ve already got,” said Fellows.
That means new infrastructure links in the North have the potential to greatly develop and connect communities, but they come with the “chicken and egg” problem that the communities aren’t economically viable yet to afford the infrastructure link, meaning someone – mainly government – has to pay for the significant initial investment.
Fellows readily admitted that the group was ready and eager to receive all feedback from folks in Rankin Inlet, including opposition to such infrastructure links.
“One of the things about us that is important to get across is because we’re at a university and we’re a research institution, we are not a project proponent,” said Fellows. “We’re not a group coming in with a desire to actually build this. We’re not a company and we’re not a government. We really are interested in getting honest feedback from communities and getting the views of those people in the community.”
The event was scheduled for the rec hall in Rankin Inlet 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1.
An online portal will be open after the session for any further comments people would like to make. The goal of the research is to eventually turn it over to policymakers and the knowledge base in Canada to use in their decision making.