A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘northwest territories

[NEWS] 15 links about Canada and Canadian politics (#cdnpoli)

  • Scott Gilmore at MacLean’s notes how, in the United States, Canada as a model is a common idea among Democrats.
  • David Camfield argues at The Conversation that the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike offers lessons for Canadians now.
  • Le Devoir notes the recent argument of now-Québec premier François Legault that a Québec that was, like Ontario, a relatively wealthy province would be a Québec that would have fewer tensions with the rest of Canada. Is this plausible?
  • Éric Grenier notes at CBC that, in Ontario, Andrew Scheer’s federal conservatives will need to draw voters from beyond Ford Nation.
  • MacLean’s hosts the arguments of Frank Graves and Michael Valpy that Canadian politicians are not paying nearly the amount of attention to economic inequality that Canadians think they should.
  • MacLean’s makes the point that Conrad Black seems to see much to like in Donald Trump.
  • Ontario and the Canadian government are fighting over funding for the proposed Ontario Line, the Canadian government insisting it needs more information about the route. The Toronto Star reports.
  • Facebook, it turns out, chose not to pay proper attention to sending officials to testify at a Canada government inquiry into fake news. Maclean’s reports.
  • Justin Trudeau, speaking recently in Toronto, credited immigration for the success of the tech sector of Canada. CBC reports.
  • Foreign workers turn out to play a critical role in staffing the lobster plants in the Acadian fishing village of Meteghan, in Nova Scotia. CBC reports.
  • Canada and the United States are again disputing the claims of Canada to sovereignty over the Northwest Passage. Global News reports.
  • MacLean’s interviews Northwest Territories premier Bob McLeod, who dreams of a massive development of Arctic Canada, including a goal of a million residents for his territory.
  • Enzo DiMatteo suggests at NOW Toronto that the growing unpopularity of Doing Ford in Ontario might hurt the federal Conservatives badly.
  • Could the Green Party go mainstream across Canada? The Conversation considers.
  • The Conversation reports on what the national fervour over the Toronto Raptors represents, including the growing diversity of the population of Canada and the global spread of basketball.

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: Innisfil, Montréal, Yellowknife, Miami Beach, Plovdiv

  • CityLab notes how the effort of exurban Innisfil to use Uber as a substitute for mass transit did not work as expected.
  • HuffPost Québec looks at how the Québec government is prioritizing the REM suburban light rails over the proposed Pink Line.
  • Yellowknife may see the construction of a decidedly green four-story building. CBC North reports.
  • CityLab looks at the experience of Miami Beach in using public art to put itself on the map.
  • Guardian Cities looks at how the city of Plovdiv, second-largest city in Bulgaria, is trying to attract past emigrants from the country.

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: Montréal, Lethbridge, Tuktoyaktuk, Hong Kong, Berlin

  • MTLBlog reports from each borough of Montréal to see what a monthly rent of $C 1000 can get a hopeful tenant. The results will shock you, especially if you are used to Toronto rents (or higher!).
  • The Alberta city of Lethbridge hopes, coming the 2020 census, its population will finally reach the mark of one hundred thousand residents. Global News reports.
  • The northern Canadian town of Tuktoyaktuk is literally falling into the Arctic Ocean, as the ground crumbles while the sea rises. The National Post reports.
  • The aging of the population of taxi drivers of Hong Kong leaves open the question of who, or what, will take their place. Bloomberg reports.
  • CityLab reports on the remarkable ambition of the new transit plan of Berlin.

[NEWS] Five First Nations links: NunatuKavut, Spadina, Arctic education, Gwich’in food, Haida manga

  • The Canadian federal government is moving to recognize the Inuit of NunatuKavut, in southern Labrador. Global News reports.
  • I wish I had seen this billboard downtown on Spadina Avenue. CBC reports on this indigenous anti-racism initiative.
  • Creating Arctic universities with services catering to each of the three northern territories would have positive implications for education, not least among native groups. Global News reports.
  • The Discourse reports on how, for the Gwich’in of the Northwest Territories, turning to native foodstuffs is not only key to cultural revival but also the only economically viably way they have to eat.
  • At The Conversation, Marie Mauzé takes a look at the innovative Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas and his creation of the new artform of “Haida manga”.

[URBAN NOTE] “A city of two worlds, Yellowknife is an open book well worth reading”

Dave Bidini’s ode in The Globe and Mail to Yellowknife is a lovely read.

Yellowknife is small and openhearted, but it’s also hard to find. You think you know what it is, but then it moves – from the darkness of a tavern teeming with North and South Slavey, Cape Bretoners, Métis, Saskatchewanians and old men from the Dehcho to the cool shadow of a Twin Otter cruising low enough above your dockside rock that you could poke it with a fork. Here’s a fun game: When visiting, try to describe Yellowknife to your friends on a postcard (hint: buy a lot of postcards).

Yellowknife has a main street, but no one calls it that. In fact, they call it two things: 50th Avenue and Franklin Avenue, depending on how you feel about the former British explorer and northern colonialism (spoiler alert: The Dene don’t feel good, while most non-indigenous shrug as if not quite understanding the question). The main street – or 50th or he-who-will-not-be-named – has its own naked charm, including the denizens outside the main Post Office, most of them undomiciled.

If you spend any time with them, it isn’t hard to walk into a story. One afternoon at the main post office, I met two men the size of compact cars – Bear and James Thrasher, both from Tuktoyaktuk – who, like many of the city’s homeless, had come to Yellowknife because of greater access to services, housing and alcohol (Tuktoyaktuk is a dry community on the shores of the Western Arctic, which I visited during my eight-week stay in the Northwest Territories).

When they found out I was going to their hamlet, Bear asked for my book so he could write down the Inuvialuktun word for “white person.” I handed it to him – the hardbound writing book looked like a church pamphlet in his great hands – and his tongue curved around his lip while engraving the word on the page: kabloonak. He told me in a voice like a hammer on a drum: “Now, listen, you might hear this word, but it’s not necessarily bad. It depends on how someone uses it. You got that?” I told him I did.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 16, 2016 at 3:45 pm

[LINK] On the completion of the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway

The Toronto Star‘s Jim Coyle describes in “Highway will complete Canada’s road network from coast to coast” how a highway on the Canadian Arctic is nearing construction.

For a half century and more, an all-weather Inuvik-to-Tuktoyaktuk Highway has been imagined, proposed, talked about in the Northwest Territories. Call it Jack Kerouac on the tundra, the chance to get on the road year-round and drive across a part of Canada glorious in its harsh beauty and still the last frontier. The project, which began in 2014 and has put hundreds of surveyors, equipment operators and labourers to work, is expected to be completed in 2017-18. A series of photographs from the New York Times shows the land and people of a place apart, soon to be linked to the rest of the country.

Inuvik, with a population of about 3,500, is in the Mackenzie Delta above the Arctic Circle and is the current northern terminus of the Dempster Highway, connecting the Inuvik region to the Yukon highway system. Tuktoyaktuk, known as Tuk, is a hamlet of about 1,000 on the shore of the Arctic Ocean northeast of Inuvik. Its location has been used for centuries by the Inuvialuit people as a camp for harvesting caribou and hunting whales.

The 138-kilometre ITH is expected to cost about $300 million, two-thirds covered by the federal government, the rest by provinces and territories involved in the project. Maintenance costs — estimated at from $2,000 to $8,000 per kilometre a year — fall to the territory. The benefit of the highway’s top-of-the-world location on the treeless open tundra is reduced snowplowing cost, as snow tends to blow off the roadway.

Construction is expected to create more than 2,000 jobs in various parts of the country. When completed, local residents will benefit from a cheaper cost of living as goods can be shipped year-round, not just when an ice highway is operational between mid-December and the end of April. There will also be greater access to health care and educational opportunities, as well as enhanced social and recreational opportunities in the region. Locals look for a tourism increase as the more intrepid of their southern compatriots come to visit.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 16, 2016 at 5:22 pm

[LINK] “A lake in the Northwest Territories is about to fall off a cliff”

The Globe and Mail shared Bob Weber’s Canadian Press article describing how global warming will lead to a lake in the Northwest Territories falling off a cliff.

Some time in the next few months, a small northern lake will burst through the shrinking earthen rampart holding it back and fall off a cliff.

“It’s got a ways to travel,” says Steve Kokelj of the Northwest Territories Geological Survey. “This lake happens to be perched about 600 feet above the Mackenzie Valley.”

[. . .]

The doomed lake, which has no name and sits in the northern corner of the territory near the community of Fort McPherson, is a victim of the region’s geology and changing climate.

Permafrost in this part of the N.W.T. contains a high percentage of ice in headwalls, which can be up to 30 metres thick. That ice has been there since the retreat of the Laurentide Ice Sheet 20,000 years ago.

Trouble starts when parts of the headwalls are exposed by erosion from wind or rain. The ice melts, which causes the soil and rock on top to collapse. That exposes more ice, which also melts and extends the collapse, and the cycle keeps repeating.

“It thaws in the summertime and will continue to work its way back upslope until you run out of ice or the headwall gets covered by sediment,” Kokelj says. “The slumps chew their way upslope.”

Written by Randy McDonald

July 22, 2015 at 10:30 pm

[LINK] On a promised economic boom in Inuvik

Via 3 Quarks Daily I came across Audrea Lim’s n+1 article “Seismic Lines”. In it, Lim describes how the Arctic town of Inuvik is perpetually poised on an economic boom, promised product of fossil fuel exploitation, that just hasn’t arrived for any number of reasons (environmental, political, economic).

Inuvik is a town of 3,600 in the Mackenzie Delta in the Northwest Territories (NWT), about 100 km south of the Beaufort Sea. It is roughly one-third Inuvialuit (Inuit), one-third First Nations, and one-third non-aboriginal. For a month of the year, the sun doesn’t rise, and for another, the sun doesn’t set. All utility pipes run above ground because of the permafrost, the mix of rock, soil, and ice that is permanently frozen just a few feet below ground. Although Amar is originally from the Sudan, he had been living in Canada for about ten years when his cousin, a cab driver making good money in Inuvik, invited him to visit. Amar visited and stayed. That was 2009. He doesn’t plan to remain, but for now the wages are good and he saves nearly all of them—there’s nothing to buy around here. But this could change: Inuvik is the largest town in Canada along the Arctic energy frontier. It is always on the verge of booming, even if the big boom that promises to change everything hasn’t shown up.

I arrived in summer on a road trip with a friend. We drove up the Dempster Highway, which begins in the tourist town of Dawson City and winds northward for 736 km to Inuvik, the only road in Canada that leads into the Arctic Circle all year round. Dawson is frozen in commemoration of its own birth, the Klondike Gold Rush that brought workers and investment in droves, but this nostalgic display quickly fades from view once we’re on the road, with forest giving way to mountains, and mountains flattening into rolling hills and eventually tundra. The gradual disappearance of trees marks a climate growing harsher; eventually, the anemic black spruces, leaning lazily in every direction thanks to the permafrost, disappear altogether. In every direction are undulating expanses of land, and for hours at a time, there are no signs of human life, no power lines or even guard railings to prevent the tired driver, hypnotized by the vastness of it all, from veering off the road.

A specter haunts Inuvik, and the Dempster was constructed in anticipation. That specter is oil and gas, and the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline that will transport it south. The Arctic is estimated to contain at least a quarter of the world’s undiscovered natural gas reserves and 13 percent of its oil. A third of Canada’s remaining conventionally recoverable natural gas resources and a quarter of its light crude oil reserves are located in the NWT and Nunuvat.

The possibility of massive oil exploitation has periodically galvanized the region into a frenzy, prompting visions of a boom many times more drastic than the one currently overtaking western Pennsylvania and upstate New York; it is perhaps more on par with the development of the Alberta Tar Sands in the ’70s, which transformed Calgary from a farming town into a wealthy oil capital. The Mackenzie Valley Pipeline was first proposed in 2004 by a consortium of oil giants, including Imperial Oil, ConocoPhilips, ExxonMobil, and Shell. One thousand one hundred and ninety-six kilometers long, the pipeline would connect Inuvik to northern Alberta, link up to existing Tar Sands infrastructure, and transport gas to markets across Canada and into the United States. The Pipeline is part of the Mackenzie Gas Project which, when completed, will be the largest pipeline system in Canada’s north, driving the development of other fields in the region, much as the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline will drive further development of the Tar Sands by connecting it to foreign markets.

The government approved the Mackenzie Gas Project in 2010, but two years later, disaster—of a sort, anyway—struck: US natural gas production reached an all-time high and natural gas prices dipped to a ten-year low. Suddenly, the Mackenzie Valley reserves began to seem less attractive, and the project was placed on hiatus. Shell is trying to sell its share, while the remaining partners decided at the end of 2013 not to go ahead with the project in its originally proposed form.

“The oil men, they come and go,” said Gerry Kisoun, who was born along the banks of the Delta, grew up in Inuvik, and is now Deputy Commissioner of the NWT. “They come for a while, think they are going to make big money, and then all of a sudden, somebody says ‘there’s not going to be any pipeline.’ And away they go. They’re here for a couple of days, compared with the fifty-plus years I’ve been around here and part of the community.”

Written by Randy McDonald

May 7, 2014 at 9:31 pm