The federal government is turning on the taps in the north.
Prince George-Peace River MP Bob Zimmer was in the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality Friday to announce more than $51 million in infrastructure funding. The funding includes $31 million for upgrades to the Alaska Highway, $17.5 million for upgrades to the Fort Nelson River Bridge, and $2.5 million for upgrades at the Northern Rockies Regional Airport.
The spending comes in the lead up to this fall's federal election, and most of the funding had already been allocated prior to Friday’s announcements. Some work on the projects had begun in May of this year.
Airport upgrade funding will go towards airfield lighting and the replacement of the runway snowblower. Upgrades to the Fort Nelson River Bridge and to the Alaska Highway focus mainly on improving road safety with the increased amount of oil and gas traffic expected in the area in the next few years.
The Dawson Creek Chamber of Commerce pushed for these upgrades earlier this year, passing a resolution in May that asked the federal and provincial governments to prioritize funding to the Alaska Highway.
Chamber president Kathleen Connolly noted that she was happy to see the government come through.
Upgrades to the highway include realignment of sections between kilometres 133 to 598, 458 to 485, 736 to 742, 743 to 750, and for resurfacing 100 kilometres of the highway.
The Fort Nelson River Bridge upgrades will include upgrading the current single-lane bridge to two lanes, which will require significant work on the bridge’s support structures including the piers, abutments and piles.
Zimmer also announced $44,720 for the Northern Rockies Seniors Society. The money will go towards the construction of an exterior walkway and the installation of outdoor exercise equipment at Fort Nelson’s Heritage Manor.
Improving Internet access for the Peace
On Saturday, Zimmer zipped down to Dawson Creek to announce $278,217 in funding through the federal Connecting Canadians program to the Peace River Internet Society.
The funding will enable the PRIS to expand their existing networks in the area, and connect an estimated 2,000 households to Internet in the surrounding areas of Dawson Creek, Fort St. John and Chetwynd, as well as in Arras, Baldonnel, Hudson’s Hope, Jackfish Lake, Kiskatinaw, Progress, Rose Prairie, Tomslake and the Blueberry River First Nations.
The infrastructure to provide Internet in these areas is expected to be in place by 2017, according to a release from Zimmer’s office.