Yukon unlikely to get federal money for Whistle Bend facility

The Yukon government has released a list of infrastructure projects it has submitted for federal funding, which includes repairs to the Ross River suspension bridge and upgrades to water and wastewater infrastructure in several

The Yukon government has released a list of infrastructure projects it has submitted for federal funding, which includes repairs to the Ross River suspension bridge and upgrades to water and wastewater infrastructure in several Yukon communities.

However, the list doesn’t include several large projects the government has been touting, including the planned fibre-optic line up the Dempster Highway, the Whistle Bend continuing care facility and the Dawson City airport runway. To date, the government has not officially applied for federal funding for those projects.

Community Services Minister Currie Dixon produced the list in the legislative assembly on Wednesday, after Liberal Leader Sandy Silver announced on Tuesday that he planned to table a motion to request the document.

The document lists projects submitted to the New Building Canada Fund, a federal infrastructure fund. Those projects include a request for $2.7 million “to complete the upgrades to the Ross River suspension bridge.”

Another $24 million has been requested for water and wastewater projects in Haines Junction and Mayo, and $3.75 million has been requested for the reconstruction of Sixth Avenue in Whitehorse between Jarvis and Ogilvie streets.

The Department of Highways and Public Works has also asked for $41 million for bridge upgrades.

“These projects are all ready to go,” Dixon told the News. “We’re just waiting for the OK from Canada.”

The federal government has already approved $5.2 million for the construction of a new water treatment plant in Burwash Landing. It is also funding several smaller projects in various communities, including improvements to solid waste facilities in Faro, Watson Lake and Haines Junction.

Still, the list doesn’t include requests for larger projects like the Dempster fibre line or the Whistle Bend continuing care facility, and Dixon said it seems like the Whistle Bend centre won’t get any federal cash.

“We’ve kind of heard informally and it seems to be the case that that project won’t fit in any sort of federal funding envelopes that we can tell,” he said.

Dixon said the Whistle Bend facility wouldn’t have been eligible for New Building Canada funding, as the fund doesn’t cover health-care centres.

“Where would we submit an application?” he asked. “There is no fund that is for this type of thing.”

The Dempster fibre project possibly could have been submitted to the New Building Canada Fund, but Dixon said the Yukon government is hoping that a new pot of money will be created as part of the federal government’s commitment to improve broadband communications.

“We’ve been having discussions with the federal government about how we’d be able to fund that project,” he said.

Earlier this year, the Yukon government made a submission to the House of Commons standing committee on finance, outlining how it would like the federal government to help pay for these larger projects.

According to the document, the government was looking for $109.5 million for the Whistle Bend continuing care facility, $24 million for the fibre project and $64.5 million for a transmission line between Stewart Crossing and Keno City.

“They weren’t applications for funding per se,” Dixon explained. Instead, he said, the Yukon was trying to “influence how the federal government would set up some of these new funds that they had proposed setting up.”

He said the Whistle Bend facility was an example of a project that Ottawa might want to fund as part of its new commitment to social infrastructure. The fibre project was intended to fit into the broadband portfolio, and the Stewart-Keno transmission line was an example of a large-scale green energy project.

But that leaves the Yukon with some uncertainty as to how or when these projects might get funding. Dixon said he sent a letter to Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi regarding the Whistle Bend facility, but he never heard back.

For now, the Yukon government is planning to pay the full construction costs of the Whistle Bend continuing care facility by itself. It has budgeted $67 million for the first part of the construction this year.

“We intend to pay for this,” Premier Darrell Pasloski told the legislative assembly on Tuesday. “If the federal government is interested in partnering because it fits the criteria that they have for one of their new infrastructure funds, then we will welcome that money.”

NDP Opposition Leader Liz Hanson challenged the premier on his submission to the federal government. “If the minister is so confident, why is he asking Canada for $109 million?” she asked.

Regarding the planned fibre-optic line, Dixon said the federal government might provide funding through a new broadband fund, or it might tell the Yukon to apply through the New Building Canada Fund after all.

But he pointed out that the Yukon is eligible for a fixed amount of funding from New Building Canada. If the territory uses that money for larger projects, he said, less will be left over for municipal needs.

This year’s territorial budget includes $500,000 for detailed engineering of the fibre project.

Liberal Leader Sandy Silver said the Yukon needs to be more transparent about its infrastructure requests to the federal government.

“They haven’t been really forthcoming with information about infrastructure requests that they had already made,” he said. “We didn’t get this list until we actually asked for it. … I think there’s lots of room for improvement here.”

To date, the one large infrastructure project the Yukon government has submitted to Ottawa is the Yukon Resource Gateway Project, which includes road upgrades that would benefit the territory’s mining industry. The Yukon is hoping Ottawa will pitch in $250 million for the upgrades.

Contact Maura Forrest at


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

Just Posted

Crystal Schick/Yukon News
Calvin Delwisch poses for a photo inside his DIY sauna at Marsh Lake on Feb. 18.
Yukoners turning up the heat with unique DIY sauna builds

Do-it-yourselfers say a sauna built with salvaged materials is a great winter project

Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

Yukonomist: School competition ramps up in the Yukon

It’s common to see an upstart automaker trying to grab share from… Continue reading

The Yukon government responded to a petition calling the SCAN Act “draconian” on Feb. 19. (Yukon News file)
Yukon government accuses SCAN petitioner of mischaracterizing her eviction

A response to the Jan. 7 petition was filed to court on Feb. 19

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

The Yukon government says it is working towards finding a solution for Dawson area miners who may be impacted by City of Dawson plans and regulations. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Miner expresses frustration over town plan

Designation of claims changed to future planning

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Housing construction continues in the Whistle Bend subdivision in Whitehorse on Oct. 29, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Bureau of Statistics reports rising rents for Yukoners, falling revenues for businesses

The bureau has published several reports on the rental market and businesses affected by COVID-19

Council of Yukon First Nations grand chief Peter Johnston at the Yukon Forum in Whitehorse on Feb. 14, 2019. Johnston and Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn announced changes to the implementation of the Yukon First Nations Procurement Policy on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Third phase added to procurement policy implementation

Additional time added to prep for two provisions

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

Most Read