First Canada highway to Arctic officially opens

INUVIK (AFP) - The first all-season highway to Canada's Arctic has officially opened.

"This is an historic day for Canada," Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi said on Wednesday (Nov 15).

"Our country is connected by road - for the first time ever - from coast to coast to coast," he said, referring to the Atlantic, Pacific and now the Arctic oceans.

The new highway connects Tuktoyaktuk, a hamlet on the Arctic ocean, to southern parts of the country.

Sohi, along with several other federal ministers and Governor General Julie Payette - all in parkas - attended the snowy ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The 145 km highway in the Northwest Territories replaces a seasonal ice road and connects to the rest of Canada's highway system.

It thus ends the remote coastal community's winter reliance on costly air transport for food, supplies, equipment and travel.

People can now drive from Edmonton, Alberta - Canada's most northern metropolis - 3,200 km north to Inuvik and beyond to the coast.

The Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway will also allow for increased tourism opportunities and improved access to natural resources.

The highway was first proposed in the 1960s.

Construction of the roadway, eight bridges and 359 culverts started eight years ago at a cost of nearly Can$300 million (S$319 million).