INUVIK, N.W.T. — The federal government is increasing its funding contribution for upgrades to an airport in the Northwest Territories by $80 million.
It has now spent $230 million to extend and modernize the runway at Inuvik’s airport.
Ottawa says this will make the airport more suitable for larger and heavier aircraft, and enhance the Canadians Armed Force’s ability to operate in the Arctic.
Inuvik’s Mike Zubko Airport acts as a forward operating base for the Royal Canadian Air Force and Norad, in addition to hosting civilian aircraft.
The project is to extend the runway by 914 metres and modernize lighting, its navigational system and a military aircraft arrestor system.
Construction is expected to be complete in 2027.
“It is critical that we continue to invest in defence infrastructure upgrades in the North,” Minister of National Defence Anita Anand said in a statement Thursday.
“The Arctic faces unique safety and security concerns because of climate change, and it is our responsibility to provide our military personnel with the infrastructure they require to be well-prepared to defend the North.”
N.W.T. Liberal MP Michael McLeod said the funding will also create regional economic opportunities. The prime contractor for the project is Delta North Alliance Construction Inc., an Indigenous owned and operated joint venture in the territory.
The project was initially expected to cost up to $150 million and be complete by 2025. The government attributed the increased cost to delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain issues and rising material costs.
Other improvements and repairs have been underway at the Invuk airport.
In 2019, the federal and territorial governments announced $22 million in combined funding for work to address climate change effects, make the airport more resilient and protect the permafrost. That included surface repairs, drainage improvements and widening the runway and taxi embankments.
The governments pledged $42 million in funding for a new air terminal in 2021.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2023.
The Canadian Press