LETTER FROM THE PREMIER, to Yellowknife and NWT Chambers of Commerce and NWT/Nunavut Chamber of Mines.
I have recently been made aware that the NWT Chamber of Commerce is conducting an online survey of its members suggesting that the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) has dropped the Slave Geologic Province Corridor in favour of another priority. I am writing to assure you that this is not the case and to clarify the intent of recent engagements with Canada on priorities.
To be certain, the Slave Geologic Province Corridor project (SGPC project) continues to be a priority of the GNWT and remains one of the major projects explicitly under the priority of making strategic infrastructure investments to connect communities, expand the economy, or reduce the cost of living. The SGPC project is important to the economic future of the NWT. We recognize that along with clean energy such as the Taltson hydro expansion for mining, the SGPC project will provide access to critical minerals essential to the further transition to renewable energy. As recognition of the importance of secure supply lines to critical minerals continues to grow, so does significance of the SGPC project.
I regret that the news of the GNWT’s recent engagement with the federal government, as the federal budget for 2023-24 is being finalized, has been interpreted as diminished interest from the GNWT in the SGPC project. This is not at all the case. In our messaging with the federal government, we have continued to communicate the importance of the SGPC project in relation to the Taltson hydro expansion. It should also be appreciated that annual federal budget cycles do not always align with the needs of specific projects, and that the prominence of other projects in annual federal budget discussions does not mean that other projects are not seen as priorities.
Again, I want to assure you that the GNWT recognizes the importance of the SGPC project to the economic future of the NWT, and that this continues to be highlighted with our federal partners as we continue to advance planning work for that project. We have also been clear to point out the potential for critical minerals and other mining development as we discuss building capacity for clean energy in the NWT.
The survey question suggests to me that we have not been doing a good job in engaging with your organizations to ensure that there is a shared understanding of priorities. I will ask officials to work with yours so that further engagement might occur early in the New Year. I also ask that you consider sharing this letter with your respective members so they can be assured that the SGPC project does indeed remain a priority of the GNWT.
I look forward to further discussions and wish you all a warm and restful holiday season.