New roads for Old Crow

As infrastructure projects go, this one is about as modest as they come. The dirt and gravel roads of Old Crow will be resurfaced, thanks to $1.5 million in joint funding from Ottawa and Whitehorse.

As infrastructure projects go, this one is about as modest as they come.

The dirt and gravel roads of Old Crow will be resurfaced, thanks to $1.5 million in joint funding from Ottawa and Whitehorse.

The roads won’t be paved. “It doesn’t make sense to pave the roads because permafrost heaves,” said Joe Linklater, chief of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation.

“If you look at certain sections of the Alaska Highway, there are huge frost heaves in the road.”

Rather, about 2.5 kilometres of road in the village’s core will be reshaped, given a fresh coat of gravel and proper ditching.

“If you look at an engineered road, there’s an arc to it. That lets the water off,” said John McGovern, Yukon’s fund agreement co-ordinator.

“And they also don’t have a proper drainage system. There’s no real drainage in town.”

Currently, the roads tend to flood during the spring, as meltwater flows off Crow Mountain.

In summer, the big problem is dust kicked up off the roads by trucks and ATVs. To fix this, the community hopes to buy non-toxic dust suppressant to coat the roads, said Linklater.

This work will likely be done over the summer of 2011, said McGovern.

Old Crow hopes to piggyback other projects onto the roadwork.

“To do one-off infrastructure projects in Old Crow is just way too expensive,” said Linklater.

“Sometimes we need to try to squeeze five years of capital projects into one year. It gets complicated.”

The community’s tank farm needs to be relocated. There’s a need for new housing lots.

And work must be done on Old Crow’s dump, which was built on low-lying ground near the Yukon River. Linklater hopes to see a retaining wall built around the dump, to prevent water from washing out contamination.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.