Federal funds begin work on long-awaited road to central Arctic tundra

TORONTO — Northern leaders are cheering after Ottawa announced funding to begin planning and design work for a long-awaited road into the heart of Canada’s mineral-rich Arctic.

Liberal MP Paul Lefebvre has told a mining conference in Toronto the federal government will kick in more than $5 million to start work on an all-season road into the centre of the Northwest Territories.

Building a road into the so-called Slave Geological Province has been discussed since John Diefenbaker was prime minister in the early 1960s.

N.W.T.’s minister of industry and infrastructure calls the announcement a great first step to opening up what he says is one of the richest areas of the country.

Estimates suggest the road could unlock $45 billion in mineral resources.

Schumann says construction of the first section of the road could start within five years.

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