Winter road means business for Old Crow

The winter road to Old Crow will generate economic activity in the community and in the Yukon for years to come, says Vuntut Gwitchin Chief Joe Linklater. 

The winter road to Old Crow will generate economic activity in the community and in the Yukon for years to come, says Vuntut Gwitchin Chief Joe Linklater.

The first winter road to Old Crow in a decade opened last week.

The road will be open through late March, bringing approximately 50 truckloads of goods to the community while hauling out waste and broken down equipment.

The Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and the Yukon government agreed to split the $1.4 million cost of building and maintaining the road.

But the First Nation has also spent about $5 million bringing in construction materials and other supplies to the community, said Linklater.

“It’s a fairly significant commitment on behalf of a small First Nation, and we still have to maintain our day-to-day activities, providing services to the community. Over a three-week period, spending $5 million is fairly significant. It would be for any community, I think, but especially for a small community like Old Crow.”

Others are taking advantage of the land link as well.

The RCMP had two new trucks and two new snowmobiles shipped in, while sending out older equipment.

Yukon Electrical Company Ltd. is bringing in new generating equipment.

Residents have ordered personal vehicles and larger items that would cost a small fortune to bring in by air.

One of the big ticket items that the First Nation has ordered is supplies to build a new store.

The store will be managed in partnership with Arctic Co-operatives Limited and overseen by a board made up of community members from Old Crow.

The First Nation is paying for the construction of the store, but the board will pay back the cost over time, with the eventual goal of having the store entirely owned by the community.

“That gives a great deal of control to the community,” said Linklater. “In the past we’ve had concerns about the types of foods that are brought in – they’re not always the healthiest foods.”

Currently, the only store in the community is the Northern Store. That company brings in managers from Outside, and they don’t always stay, said Linklater.

Peter Frost is one of members of the newly formed board that will manage the co-operative.

“This is a good idea,” he said. “People will own their own co-op, it will be a big benefit to the community down the road.”

Having the winter road to bring in building materials makes a huge difference, he said.

“It’s a real bonus, bringing in all this freight. It’s a lot cheaper than flying material in.”

The First Nation is also bringing in materials for new housing.

“We have adult children that are unable to move out of their parents’ home,” said Linklater. “Everybody is working, but because there is no place to rent or anything, they’re having to stay with their parents. So you have some very serious overcrowding in some of the houses. So we would like to try to bring in some single unit housing on the winter road just to alleviate some of the more critical situations that we have in the community.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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