Additional investment of around $3 million has been approved to support the potential development of a hydroelectric and fibre-optic link that would connect communities in the Kivalliq region of Nunavut to Northern Manitoba, Canada.
The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) will be investing the funds to build on a prior feasibility study examining the development of the Kivalliq Hydro-Fibre Link project. The feasibility work first announced back in 2019 was successful in gathering technical data, providing design work, examining some of the impacts the link would create, and consulting with government officials and other organizations that could benefit from the project.
Last week, the Honourable Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for CanNor, announced the nearly $3 million in additional investments to support early phase data collection and analysis for the project.
This funding will support preliminary geomorphological, biophysical, heritage, and permafrost studies that will be conducted along the proposed route of the hydro-fibre link. It will also include engagement with communities and traditional land use studies amongst First Nation communities throughout Manitoba as well as Inuit in Nunavut to ensure proper consultation on the project. Budget 2021 also proposes to invest $40.4 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to support feasibility and planning of hydroelectricity and grid interconnection projects in the North. This additional funding could advance projects such as the Kivalliq Hydro-Fibre Link Project.
The economic and environmental benefits to this link are considered to be significant. The project is expected to reduce fossil fuel usage while introducing reliable clean power and high speed broadband to communities. The mining industry is expanding in the Kivalliq region, but it is currently dependent on diesel to provide electricity. The establishment of a hydro-fibre link will provide more affordable electricity and improve the viability of future mining projects and encourage more exploration.
"Our government's support for this project, including proposed investments through Budget 2021, will help in the development of a critical piece of infrastructure for the future economic success of Manitoba and Nunavut, while also working with Indigenous partners to ensure respect for traditional lands and cultures and protection of the Northern environment,” commented The Honourable Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs.
"The Kivalliq Hydro-Fibre Link is an Inuit led national infrastructure project that can sustainably transform our communities, industry and connect our region to the rest of Canada for the first time,” added Kono Tattuinee, President, Kivalliq Inuit Association. “This project represents the future of the Arctic and by partnering with the Government of Canada and others we look forward to the work that lies ahead to develop this critical infrastructure link."
CanNor is investing $2,993,762 million over three years to support further feasibility work for the Kivalliq Hydro-Fibre Link project including the preliminary data collection and analysis as well as consultation with Inuit in Nunavut and First Nations in communities throughout Manitoba. The Kivalliq Inuit Association is contributing $752,934.
In 2019, CanNor invested over $1.6 million in the feasibility study for this project. The investment supported the gathering of technical data, conceptual design work, required permits, as well as government and stakeholder engagement.