Tuesday August 4 2015 3 POLITICS INFRASTRUCTURE EVERYONE IS INVITED by the Board of Directors NWT Seniors Society and Fort Smith Senior Citizens Society to attend the Annual General Meeting September 10 2015 at 1000 AM at the Curling Club Lounge Fort Smith NT Special Guest Speaker Dennis Bevington MP Western Arctic Agenda Discussions Include Review of Audited Financial Statements Appointment of Board of Directors 2015-2016 Review of New Draft Document Addressing Abuse of Older Adults A Strategy for the Northwest Territories A light lunch will be provided by the Fort Smith Senior Citizens Society This is a free event with resources and door prizes Come and Kick off the Fort Smith Seniors 55 Friendship Games from September 1113 2015 Continued from page 1. Suddenly now were in there with Banff Jasper - some of the biggies - and obviously we have not had a response from the federal minister about that program said Pietro Debastiani director of planning policy and communications for DOT. Further correspondence was also sent to federal Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel but has yet to result in funding. The federal government owns the land beneath 117 km of Highway 5. In the 2011- 12 scal year the GNWT took it upon itself to chip-seal 53 km of the road through the Reducing the Cost of Living strategic fund- ing initiative established in 2007. Beaulieu said its denitely a possibility that similar funding could be designated for chip-sealingtheremaining64kmduringthenal sessionofthe17thAssemblythisfallbutthatit would have to be 100 per cent GNWT-funded. At the same time Debastiani said DOT recognizes chip-sealing is not a perma- nent solution. Its one thing to put a surface on thingsbut itsanotherthingtoactuallyreconstructahigh- way to full geometric standards and then pave it he said. I do understand they would have chip-sealed a few sections of it but the bulk of that highway requires a reconstruction effort. Theres no point putting a chip-sealed surface down on the road when its just not going to stay. Youre putting a band-aid on something. While Parks Canada has yet to pave any of Highway 5 it does pay the territorial govern- ment to maintain the entire 117 km. Accord- ing to the GNWT the cost for maintenance has been steadily increasing due to the de- teriorating condition of the road and is now over 1.3 million per year. Limited funds for highways DOT With a limited capital budget ofcials with the territorial government say they have been forcedtopickandchoosewhichroadstheygive priority. Over the life of the 17th Assembly re- constructionworkhasbeendoneonHighways 1 3 4 7 and 8 some almost yearly. Earlierthissummerthedepartmentcarried out public engagement sessions throughout the NWT to get input on their 25-year Trans- portation Strategy which was tabled in June. A plan for nishing Highway 5 is not in- cluded in the strategy which lists four other road projects as priority items an all-weather Mackenzie Highway from Wrigley to Norman Wells an all-weather road to the diamond mines an all-weather road to Whati to sup- port Fortunes NICO mine and improvements to Highway 7 to support tourism and Ca- nadian Zincs Prairie Creek mine. Debastiani said DOT uses every oppor- tunity to secure federal funding to improve roadways in the NWT. In the event that Parks Canada does provide funding to nish High- way 5 he said DOT would be amenable to a cost-sharing scenario to get that work com- pleted but doesnt have the money right now to pave it alone. Wecantalwayswaitforthefederalgovern- ment but we have to balance this with needs across the entire system because we have a very important budget but its heavily strained from year to year to year Debastiani said. Mayor not surprised Fort Smith Mayor Brad Brake said he was not surprised to see a lack of monies put aside for the completion of Highway 5. When the DOT traveled through the NT communities earlier this year I attended their meeting.Theyhadastrategicplandevelopedfor theNThighwaysystemandthestrategicplan forHighway5wasSecurefundingfromParks Canada Brake told the Journal in an email. I offered my opinion that a ve-word sen- tence was indicative of a complete lack of planning and passing the buck because of a jurisdictional issue was doing a disservice to the citizens of Fort Smith. That concern was noted in the nal Trans- portation Strategy. Many expressed concern that there was no obviousconsistentplanforcompletionofproj- ects that have been worked on for a number of years ie. chip sealing Highway 5 toward Fort Smith rebuilding and chip sealing Highway 1 toward Fort Simpson Highway 6 to Fort Res- olution etc. the report states. The consen- sus was that the GNWT needs to get some of these nished and off the agenda. Brake also directed his concerns to Parks Canada. In a response from Wood Buffalo National Parkeld unit superintendent David Britton said Parks continues to work closely with the GNWT on improving the highway. We recognize that this would be a project that would have substantial support in the community and are investigating options for an approach to it Britton wrote. Bad for business Chamber The road issue has been raised repeatedly by Fort Smith residents and business own- ers as not only a safety hazard for locals but a deterrent to tourism and business in the community. Thebacha Chamber of Commerce president Janie Hobart said there have been numer- ous reports of tourists and athletes choos- ing not to make the trek to Fort Smith due to the condition of the unpaved section and its impact on vehicles. It impacts all of us she said. Its not just strictly the hospitality industry it impacts all the retailers in the community here. While she believes DOT is doing the best it can to maintain the unpaved section she said its time for the federal government to step in and complete the road which would save money in maintenance costs in the long run. That section is in the park Hobart said. Its Parks responsibility to create that infra- structure and I understand that right now the federal government is balking at doing that road repair which is unfortunate. Its one of the mandates of the park to encourage people to come to the park to see the mag- nicence of it. Their lack of providing proper infrastructure is creating some problems. NWT funding for road a denite possibility minister Filephoto Parks Canada has yet to pave the remaining 64 km of federally owned road on Highway 5.