Paving Dawson City’s runway would boost economy: chamber

Paving the airport runway in Dawson City would have positive economic impacts on the community, according to a new report.

Paving the airport runway in Dawson City would have positive economic impacts on the community, according to a new report.

The Dawson City Chamber of Commerce released a business case evaluation of the project last week. It found that the project would have a net benefit of about $4.7 million over the next 12 years, and would create about 76 jobs during construction.

“It’s a very positive outcome,” said Dick Van Nostrand, president of the chamber of commerce. “I want to get a phone call from the premier or the minister to say, ‘We’ve looked at the report and it makes sense… and we’re putting this into gear.’”

The report estimates it would cost $11 million to pave the runway and that operations and maintenance would cost about $800,000 each year after that. But it also calculates that operations and maintenance of the existing gravel runway cost about $560,000 each year, so the increase would only be about $240,000 per year.

The study also finds that reduced costs for aircraft operators and growing tourism revenue, particularly from the Holland America cruise line, would more than make up the difference, leading to that $4.7 million net benefit.

It also found that increased Holland America traffic would help create nearly 40 new jobs a year, starting a few years after the runway paving is finished.

Van Nostrand said jets flying into Dawson will be able to hold more passengers if they can land on a paved runway.

He also said the situation will soon come to a head, because Air North’s single Boeing 737-200, equipped to land on gravel, is coming to the end of its lifespan.

“Maybe at the max a year and a half to two years,” he said. If the runway isn’t paved by then, he worries, the Holland America traffic may dry up.

Van Nostrand said the Yukon government needs to make a decision about the runway soon, because it will likely take about two years for the project to be complete.

“We need to get our asses in gear and get it done,” he said.

He said he was “blind-sided” when the Yukon government announced last month that it will fund a functional plan to look at the costs of the airport project this year.

“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “It’s not an announcement. That’s just what governments do every day. Everybody’s dreaming and planning.”

The Yukon government has also said it will look at other possible upgrades, including rebuilding or relocating the Dawson airport terminal building.

But Van Nostrand said those upgrades aren’t needed right now. His report doesn’t address those other projects.

He also explained that the $11-million price tag would include cement apron panels at either end of the runway, to help aircraft maneuver. Without those aprons, the project would likely cost about $8 million.

Contact Maura Forrest at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukon Party elects new leader

Dixon wins Yukon Party leadership

Construction to get underway on new skate park

Project expected to take six months

Restaurants and personal services businesses to open next week

Industry-specific guidelines for reopening are available online


Wyatt’s World for May 22, 2020

EDITORIAL: Good science means accepting new information and adjusting accordingly

While COVID-19 has been making international headlines since early 2020, the day… Continue reading

Today’s mailbox: Healthcare, COVID-19 and taxes

Letters to the editor published May 22

Yukon Teachers’ Association elects new president

Holy Family Elementary School principal Ted Hupé has been elected president of… Continue reading

Yukon government clarifies businesses available to travellers

Travellers can stop anywhere along the approved route in one of the marked communities

Eight people arrested over three days on drug-related charges

The Yukon RCMP’s crime reduction unit arrested eight people in the span… Continue reading

City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week. Rezoning… Continue reading

Liard First Nation postpones chief, council election

Liard First Nation (LFN) has postponed the election for chief and council… Continue reading

Yukon government releases policing priorities

The Yukon government has released its policing priorities for 2020-21. The government… Continue reading

Youth arrested after 36 windows broken at École Emilie Tremblay

Whitehorse RCMP have arrested a youth after three-dozen windows were broken at… Continue reading

Most Read