The governments of Canada and Northwest Territories launch a project to help protect northern roads in the face of climate change

News Release

August 18, 2016 – Yellowknife, Northwest Territories – Transport Canada

A safe, secure and efficient transportation system is crucial to the viability and socio-economic welfare of northern communities and contributes to economic opportunities in the North.

The Honourable Marc Garneau; Canada’s Minister of Transport, along with Wally Schumann; the Northwest Territories’ Transportation Minister, and Michael McLeod; Member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories, announced today the launch of the second phase of the Northwest Territories (NWT) Transportation Monitoring Program and the extension of research activities along established test sites.

This project will study the effects of climate change on permafrost and transportation infrastructure. Its results will ensure that future transportation projects undertaken by the NWT Government take into account the potential impacts of climate change in their budget, design, construction, and maintenance phases.

The Government of Canada is providing $560,700 over the next two years from the Northern Transportation Adaptation Initiative (NTAI) for this second phase of the NWT Transportation Monitoring Program. The Government of NWT is providing the remaining amount, for a total project cost of $747,600.


“We are committed to the development of Canada’s northern transportation system and I am pleased to contribute to this research project in the North. Climate change has an important impact on northern roads and airport runways built on permafrost, and on the safety of Arctic marine vessels and operations. The Northern Transportation Adaptation Initiative facilitates better and more integrated transportation planning and adaptation measures, which ultimately helps Canadians understand the effects of climate change in the North.”
The Honourable Marc Garneau
Canada’s Minister of Transport

“Innovation, research and development are essential in finding better ways to deal with the ever increasing impacts of climate change on northern infrastructure. This project will give us the chance to collect data and monitor the use of new technologies in the upcoming years, to better design and plan for the impact of a changing climate.”
Wally Schumann
Minister of Transportation, Government of the Northwest Territories

“As the North warms and permafrost thaws, the effects of climate change are becoming more and more visible on highways in the Northwest Territories. These initiatives are important steps in understanding how we can best maintain our roadways in these warming conditions, both over continuous permafrost, and discontinuous or sporadic permafrost, and will help us mitigate the impacts of a warming climate on Northern transportation routes moving forward.”
Michael McLeod
Member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories

Quick Facts

  • Transport Canada's NTAI provides support to help Canadians better understand the effects of climate change on the northern transportation system and to facilitate the integration of adaptation measures into transportation planning and operations.
  • Budget 2016 confirmed a two-year extension to the NTAI, including a $1.69 million grants and contributions component to support territorial governments and not-for-profit private sector research and development activities to maximize limited northern resources.
  • Phase 2 of the NWT Transportation Monitoring Program includes four components located throughout the Northwest Territories:
    • The monitoring of the structural stability of highway embankments on two test sections along the newly constructed Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway (ITH);
    • The installation and monitoring of 24 thermistors along the ITH;
    • The monitoring of alternative culverts and water crossing structures at various locations along the ITH and the Mackenzie Valley Winter Road; and,
    • The testing and monitoring of new rehabilitation techniques for roads constructed on discontinuous or sporadic permafrost at four different sections along Highway 3.
  • In the past, the Government of Canada provided $669,000 under the NTAI for the first phase of the project, which included the establishment of two permafrost research and development sites along the ITH:
    • A geotextile-reinforced deep fill embankment section near kilometre 82; and,
    • An alternative polyethylene drainage culvert structure near kilometre 20.

Associated link


Mélany Gauvin
Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport, Ottawa

Media Relations
Transport Canada
613- 993-0055

Ioana Spiridonica
Department of Transportation
Government of the Northwest Territories
867-767-9082 ext. 31042
Follow us on Twitter at @GNWT_DOT

MP Michael McLeod’s constituency office

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