Manitoba’s senior federal cabinet minister is pushing for a winter road to be built between Churchill and Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.
Vic Toews said he’s been promoting the idea with many of his colleagues, as well as with business, provincial and territorial leaders.
While the cost of an all-weather road linking Nunavut to Manitoba may be prohibitive at present, Toews said price estimates he’s seen of a winter road are much more affordable.
Toews said a ballpark figure for the initial construction could be somewhere in the neighbourhood of $25 million. Annual maintenance costs would total about $12 million.
A winter road could be a key to developing the north and a boon for Churchill, providing many year-round jobs, Toews told reporters after addressing a Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce breakfast.
"I’ve talked to the Nunavut ministers about this. They’re very supportive. I believe the (Manitoba) government is very supportive," he said.
Toews also noted that what were once winter roads in Manitoba have eventually become all-weather roads. So, a winter road network could form the basis for a permanent road one day.
"I could see the whole north opening up and really becoming integrated into the overall Canadian infrastructure and the economy. This is very important for us not just from an economic point of view but from a sovereignty point of view," the public safety minister said.
"The Arctic is Canada’s, and building roads to the north and unifying the north with the rest of Canada by physical infrastructure, I think, will be tremendous. The cost is relatively small. The return is huge."