Dixon talks development in Fort Mac

Economic Development Minister Currie Dixon was in Fort McMurray last week with northern development ministers from across the country.

Economic Development Minister Currie Dixon was in Fort McMurray last week with northern development ministers from across the country.

Yukon led one of the priority projects for the meetings, on information and communications technology development.

“We have put a bit of an emphasis lately on the development of information and communication technology infrastructure, so … we did a report on the variety of issues, challenges and opportunities related to telecommunications development in the North. We agreed to work towards setting a standard of both infrastructure quality, affordability, and capacity,” he said.

Dixon also got the opportunity to tour the oilsands of northern Alberta.

“The size and scale of the oilsands is certainly overwhelming. But it’s important to remember that those projects are not only an economic generator for Alberta and western Canada, they’re very much a driver of the development of our economy in Canada as a whole.

“What I was particularly impressed with was the size and scale of the reclamation projects that have been undergone. You don’t often see that side of the picture when you see it in the media. … In some cases you see areas that used to be full-scale tailings ponds that have been fully reclaimed into early-stage boreal forest.”

The ministers also flew to northern Saskatchewan to tour a uranium mine.

“We went underground and learned a little bit about how uranium is mined, and a little bit about the role of the mine in the spectrum of nuclear energy,” said Dixon. “So it was very fascinating for me, as the world increases its demand for energy, and is increasingly requiring that energy to be carbon-free, or as low-carbon as possible. Nuclear obviously is a very attractive option on that front.”

The Yukon Party does not have a position on uranium mining in the Yukon, he said.

Next year’s forum will be hosted by the Yukon, in Whitehorse.

“This forum was particularly helpful because, I think, we in the territories often think of the North as ending down at the 60th parallel,” said Dixon. “We go to forums like this and realize that the provincial norths have so much in common with us.” 

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