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UPDATED: Roughly $12 million to go towards upgrading Dawson City’s airport

Paving is tentatively scheduled to take place from May 19 to 26
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Crystal Schick/Yukon News file The Dawson City Airport runway will be closed for a week in May for paving.

The Yukon government is following through with revamping the Dawson City airport, budgeting roughly $12 million to get it all laid out.

There will be closures. The runway will be undergoing paving between the evening of May 19 and midnight on May 26, meaning no planes will be flying in or out that week. Helicopter operations will not be affected.

A local company called Skookum Asphalt Ltd. was contracted to do that work, worth about $6.3 million.

Other money will account for things like the airport apron and taxiways, said Richard Mostyn, minister of the Department of Highways and Public Works, on March 11 in the House.

Construction also involves building a heated maintenance facility, which Mostyn originally announced roughly one year ago.

“I can report that work is underway, and the facility is slated for completion in the summer of 2019 — in just a few short months,” he said. “The new maintenance facility will allow airport staff to work in a dry, heated facility year-round and ensure that airport equipment is safely stored during cold and inclement weather.”

Questions flew from the opposition benches.

NDP Leader Liz Hanson reiterated her point that the Liberals are rehashing old ideas, calling Mostyn’s statement “crass politics.”

“With whom has this government done this examination and testing of ideas about the financial implications of paving the Dawson City Airport?” she said.

Hanson said there are topography concerns in the area.

“(T)here are implications of spending money to pave a facility — a runway — that will not change the material facts, nor will it increase the accessibility,” she said. “The topography of Dawson City Airport has not changed. Transport Canada has made it clear for over 30-some years that you have issues with topography with the current location.”

In response, Mostyn said that an exception is made for the runway.

“I have been talking with my federal counterpart in Ottawa — Minister Garneau — and I have continued to talk with the airline, and we have a plan to go forward to ensure that we have an exception that will allow scheduled service to the Dawson City runway for Air North,” he said.

Yukon Party Leader Stacey Hassard asked if the tab for operations and maintenance going forward at the airport would increase by $700,000. He also inquired whether the $7.7 million announced last spring for the maintenance facility is to be added to the $12 million.

A spokesperson with the department said that $6 million was spent on the maintenance facility last fiscal year. The remainder — roughly $1.4 million — will be spent this year.

“The O&M cost of the Dawson City facility is going to be $1.2 million a year,” Mostyn said. “That is an increase of $700,000. Those numbers have not changed. This year — the member opposite is right — we are spending $12 million improving the Dawson City runway. That’s part of the project,” he said, adding that this is outlined in the Liberal’s five-year capital plan.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com