Heavy equipment will be used to lay a new fibre optic cable from Dawson to Inuvik starting this summer. (Yukon Government/Facebook)

Dempster fibre line project will begin construction this summer

The 800-kilometre fibre optic line will extend from Dawson to Inuvik

Construction is set to begin on the Dempster Fibre Line project this summer in Dawson City.

ROHL Global Networks, in partnership with Dagoo Services, was awarded the $67 million dollar contract for the construction project, and more than 20 per cent of the contract is to be subcontracted to First Nations businesses.

“This project will ensure that northern communities have Internet and cell phone services that they can rely on even in the event of a cut to the fibre line like the one that occurred last week,” said Highways and Public Works Minister Nils Clarke in the legislature on May 19.

The Dempster Fibre Line Project is an 800-kilometre fibre optic line that will extend from Dawson to Inuvik, providing a backup communications line if the primary line is disrupted. Right now the territory relies on a single southern line that connects Fort Nelson, B.C., with Whitehorse.

When that single southern line is damaged it affects service across the territory. The new line will connect to the Northwest Territories’ Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link, which connects Fort Simpson with Inuvik.

Construction is expected to begin this summer in Dawson and is scheduled to be completed in 2024, according to Clarke.

The Liberals faced criticism from the opposition in the legislature on May 19. Yukon Party MLA Scott Kent said the government had been slow to get started, blowing past multiple deadlines they had set in order to get shovels in the ground.

So, I appreciate the new Minister of Highways and Public Works telling us that construction will now be completed in 2024, but, of course, you will have to forgive Yukoners for being skeptical as the last two ministers in charge of the Dempster fibre project missed every single timeline that they set for themselves,” said Kent.

In response, Clarke said no real progress was made on the project until the Liberals took office, and his government spent time securing funding from the federal government and negotiating with Northwestel.

Contact Haley Ritchie at haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com

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