The Yukon government and Liard First Nation have reached an agreement that will allow for another part of the Yukon Resource Gateway Project to proceed.
The Yukon government announced the agreement, which concerns the first phase of the Nahanni Range Road portion of the project, in a press release Jan. 16.
The Resource Gateway is a $360 million initiative funded by the federal and territorial governments to improve road access to mineral-rich areas in southeast Yukon and the Klondike.
Nahanni Range Road connects to the Robert Campbell Highway, or Highway 4, between Ross River and Watson Lake, extending up to and slightly over the border with the Northwest Territories. The first phase of its portion of the project involves replacing two bridges, repairing another and improving lines of sight and “road geometry.”
The work is expected to cost about $17 million.
“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the Government of Yukon on the Nahanni Road portion of the Gateway Project,” Liard First Nation Chief George Morgan said in the press release.
“This agreement will work to ensure proper environmental and social impact assessment and identify possible impacts to Kaska rights, while also maximizing potential economic opportunities.”
According to the Yukon government’s press release, it will be collaborating with Liard First Nation on “development, environmental assessment and regulatory aspects” of the Nahanni Road upgrades.
The agreement, it continues, “includes funding to cover capacity, training, employment and business opportunities for Liard First Nation such as vegetation clearing, wildlife monitoring, post-secondary education, as well as the commitment to establish a joint committee to develop adaptive approaches for mitigating possible negative impacts of the roads.”
“This agreement will ensure Liard First Nation meaningfully participates in the Nahanni Range Road upgrades,” Ranj Pillai, the Yukon government’s minister of energy, mines and resources, said in the press release. “… In partnership with First Nations and industry we are supporting lasting investment in Yukon’s mineral resource sector while maximizing the benefits for Yukon communities.”
Liard First Nation is the second Yukon First Nation to sign an agreement with the Yukon government for the Resource Gateway. Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation was the first, signing an agreement in March 2019 regarding the Carmacks bypass portion of the project.
Construction on the Resource Gateway was originally scheduled to begin in June 2017 with the entire project to be completed by 2025. However, it’s since fallen years behind schedule, largely because the Yukon government hasn’t reached agreements with all affected Yukon First Nations.
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