The Government of Canada and the Yukon government have committed more than $78 million to 17 infrastructure projects across the territory, including repairs to bridges, highway upgrades and water and wastewater treatment facilities.
The federal government will contribute close to $59 million for the projects, with the Yukon government providing the rest.
“Collectively, the projects will contribute to clean and reliable drinking water, environmental protection through more effective and efficient wastewater treatment, and improved roads and bridges across the Yukon,” said Yukon Liberal MP Larry Bagnell.
The infrastructure developments will take place in 10 Yukon communities. In Whitehorse, some of the money will be used to improve passing lanes and intersections along the Alaska Highway and for the reconstruction of Sixth Avenue from Jarvis Street to Ogilvie Street.
About $10 million will go toward reconstruction of the Robert Campbell Highway north of Watson Lake.
More than $40 million will be used for bridge work, including replacement of the Nares River bridge in Carcross and the Fox Creek bridge near Whitehorse, as well as repairs to the Yukon River bridge in Carmacks, the Mayo River bridge in Mayo and the Nisutlin Bay bridge in Teslin.
Haines Junction, Faro, Burwash Landing and Mayo are all slated to receive water and wastewater treatment upgrades, including a new water treatment plant in Burwash Landing.
And about $270,000 will be used to resurface the Dawson City airport runway.
“These projects aren’t the sexiest types of projects,” Community Services Minister Currie Dixon said. “But they’re very important. They’re critical, not only for our economy, but for our quality of life in Yukon communities.”
Dixon said the projects will spur economic activity across the Yukon.
“People in the construction industry, people in the road-building industry and other associated trades will be hard at work over the next few years contructing these projects,” he said.
There’s no specific timeline for these 17 projects, but Dixon said they will likely all be started by early 2018. Some, like the replacement of the Nares River bridge, will begin this summer, he said.
One notable absence from the list is the Ross River bridge, which needs new stairs, decking and cabling before it will be safe to walk on. Last November, Dixon told the legislative assembly he was hoping for federal funding for the repairs. But on Tuesday, Dixon said the bridge wasn’t included in this bundle of projects.
“Discussions are still ongoing about some of the details of that particular bridge,” he said. “There’s still some work that needs to be done at the technical level and it wasn’t quite ready for today.”
The federal money for these projects comes out of the small communities fund of the New Building Canada Fund, which supports infrastructure development across the country. Earlier this year, Bagnell and Dixon announced just over $4 million from this fund would be used for five other projects across the territory, including drainage and road upgrades in Teslin and expanded access to the McLean Lake Connector Road in Whitehorse.
Yukon’s allocation under the small communities fund was originally about $26 million, with another $230 million aimed at projects of national or regional significance in the territory. But this spring, Dixon said, the federal government agreed to transfer all of Yukon’s allocation to the small communities fund, since all of Yukon’s communities number fewer than 100,000 residents.
“That means a significant improvement in the application and approval timelines, and will certainly allow us to move in a much more expeditious fashion to get projects submitted, approved, and ultimately get shovels in the ground here in Yukon,” Dixon said.
The federal and territorial governments also announced a funding agreement in June that will see $51 million from Canada’s Clean Water and Wastewater Fund doled out to 21 projects in the Yukon over the next three years and $890,000 invested in Whitehorse’s public transit system.
“Since March … we’ve had 44 projects approved under the various federal infrastructure funds,” Dixon said. “Of those 44, 18 have begun or will begin construction this summer.”
The Yukon government is still waiting to hear from Ottawa about a major application it submitted for $250 million for road upgrades that would benefit three major mine projects in the territory — Coffee, Selwyn and Casino.
Dixon wouldn’t say much about when or whether that project might be approved.
“We’re hopeful it will,” he said. “We’re still in discussions with Canada about some of the details of the project.”
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