Hundreds of soldiers to train in Whitehorse

Around 550 soldiers from across Canada will be training for emergency responses in Whitehorse next week for an annual military training called Operation Nanook.

Around 550 soldiers from across Canada will be training for emergency responses in Whitehorse next week for an annual military training called Operation Nanook.

From Aug. 4 to 9, the Canadian Armed Forces will be simulating a variety of emergencies around the city, including at the neighbourhoods of McLean Lake, Mount Sima, Copper Ridge and Riverdale, and at the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre, the city’s combined services building, Whitehorse General Hospital and the Canada Games Centre.

No services for these amenities will be interrupted, open areas will be closed off from the public and signs will be posted to explain the training exercises to residents, said Jerry McLachlan, a spokesperson for the Department of Community Services.

Whitehorse was a chosen designation this year for the military training because Wildland Fire Management has expressed concern for at least three decades on how the territory would respond if a forest fire comes to Whitehorse, McLachlan said.

The emergency scenarios include a forest fire evacuation, a bus crash and a biohazard cleanup.

Sprinkler systems will also be deployed in Riverdale. Residents will be receiving a mock evacuation brochure for a forest fire at Mount Sima and Copper Ridge.

The workers’ compensation board will set up a temporary office on Range Road, practicing what they would do if their building burnt down. Twenty five soldiers will also be made to look injured from a bus accident beside the hospital.

So, if there’s ever a bunch of soldiers running around looking injured, do not worry. “Yukoners and visitors are asked to keep the training exercises in mind if they see unusual activity and emergency personnel in the Whitehorse area,” states a press release from the Yukon government.

Soldiers will be living and operating out of Porter Creek and F.H. Collins secondary schools, Takhini Arena and the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre during the training.

Considering recent floods in southern Alberta, mayor Dan Curtis welcomes the soldiers to strengthen local emergency response measures, he stated in the release.

Operation Nanook has taken place in various communities in the North annually since 2007 to train the Canadian Armed Forces to defend the citizens against attacks, respond to emergencies, and operate in Arctic conditions.

Last year, the operation was held in Inuvik and Tsiigehtchic, N.W.T., in the western Arctic, and Hudson Strait, Hudson Bay and Churchill, Manitoba.

The operation is considered one of “the most well-known of all Arctic operations conducted annually by the Canadian Armed Forces in Canada’s North,” according to the Yukon government in a FAQ on the operation.

This year, the federal government has budgeted $10 million to the training, said Captain Sandra Levesque with Joint Task Force North.

Local companies could expect to see $2.6 million spent on food, housing and other goods and services purchased during the exercise, said Levesque.

Residents can meet the Canadian Armed Forces, see the equipment and learn more about the operation on Aug. 10 in Shipyards Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Contact Krystle Alarcon at krystlea@yukon-news.com

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