The Yukon government and Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation (LSCFN) have both officially signed off on an agreement for the proposed Carmacks bypass.
The bypass is part of the larger Yukon Resource Gateway project, a far-reaching initiative that aims to improve road access to mineral-rich areas in the Dawson and Nahanni ranges. In particular, the bypass would create an alternative route separate from the Klondike Highway around Carmacks so that mining traffic won’t need to run directly through the community as it heads further north.
According to a Yukon government press release from April 4, the agreement will allow LSCFN “to access potential contracting, education and training benefits associated with the project.” The Yukon government has also “agreed to provide funding so the First Nation can participate effectively in the planning, design, assessment and regulatory processes for the proposed project.”
“The Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation and the Town of Carmacks have been requesting a bypass for some time to reduce traffic flow through the community,” the press release quotes LSCFN Chief Russell Blackjack as saying. “The bypass project will help ensure the safety of Carmacks residents by redirecting industrial traffic away from the community.”
The bypass’s construction, tentatively scheduled to being this summer, is dependent on the Yukon receiving funding from the federal government via a previously agreed-upon scheme for the entire Gateway project.
If it proceeds, it would be the first construction done as part of Gateway project, which is currently at least two years behind the proposed schedule the Yukon originally sent to Ottawa in January 2016. That proposal had listed an estimated construction start date of June 2017, with agreements with all Yukon First Nations impacted by the project supposed to have been completed by 2016.
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