The federal government announced Friday it will provide funding toward 15 projects involving sealifting and resupply equipment for northern communities, including three in Labrador.
The $64.9 million in funding is through the federal Department of Transportation, part of the Ocean Protection Plan, and goes to infrastructure in Nunavut, Nunavik, the Northwest Territories and Nunatsiavut.
Labrador MP Yvonne Jones told SaltWire Network $2.4 million of the funding is going toward three 25-foot by 50-foot buildings for freight storage in Nain, Postville and Rigolet.
Jones said there have been many stories on the coast of Labrador through the years of items, including food, being left on docks in winter to deal with the elements and being damaged and in some cases freezing solid.
Vessels are often being loaded or unloaded early in the morning or late at night, in all sorts of weather conditions, she said. This is a problem for food security, she said, and the federal government hopes this can help alleviate that issue.
“This will allow for safer storage of food, for stability in the food supply, but most importantly it’s creating a place where cargo can be stored and people will know when they go to pick it up their supplies will be safe and protected,” she said. “This has been a huge issue for the people in the communities and there were some old freight sheds there that weren’t adequate for the needs and they’ll now be replaced.”
Jones said she was happy to work with the Nunatsiavut Government to identify the need for the facilities and get the project moving.
Tyler Edmunds, first minister of the Nunatsiavut Government, said they were happy to hear the projects had been approved, and storage facilities have been needed at the docks in the region for some time.
Edmunds said it’s the first year the Nunatsiavut Government applied for funding under the program, and it met with all five community governments to discuss priorities.
“Something we’d heard for some time was lack of storage facilities on the north coast and we saw this as an opportunity to advance this infrastructure, so we jumped on it,” he said.
He said as a resident of Postville, he’s witnessed cargo left out in the rain with nowhere to store it, and he knows the need for these buildings in the towns.
Regarding the other two communities in Nunatsiavut, Hopedale and Makkovik, Edmunds said they were consulted and didn’t have enough space at the docks in the communites to construct a building, so Nunatsiavut will work with those communites to find another solution. They plan to apply for further funding under the plan, he said, and will look at other componenents of inshore infrastructure and environmental protection.
The projects for Nunatsiavut are hoped to go to tender early in the new year and are expected to be completed in 2021.
Some of the other projects announced under the funding include a new warehouse facility to organize and store cargo containers in Iqaluit, repairing moorings used to secure barges at the shore for sealift operations in three communities in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region and upgrading equipment for petroleum product transfer in 13 Nunavik communities.
“Thanks to the Oceans Protection Plan, Canada’s marine safety system is stronger, and our coastal ecosystems better protected than ever before,” said Marc Garneau, federal minister of transport. “These investments in northern marine infrastructure associated with resupply will improve northern communities’ access to food and goods and have a lasting impact on Canada’s marine transportation system in the Arctic.”
Evan Careen is a local Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Labrador for SaltWire Network.