Fort Chipewyan air­port gets $1.5 mil­lion fund­ing from fed­eral gov­ern­ment

Fort McMurray Today - - LOCAL NEWS - LAURA BEAMISH To­day Staff [email protected]­media.com

The Fort Chipewyan air­port will be get­ting a $1.5 mil­lion up­grade after the fed­eral gov­ern­ment an­nounced the in­vest­ment Tues­day.

Marc Gar­neau, min­is­ter of trans­port, said the in­vest­ment will be used to up­date the airfield light­ing sys­tem. The fund­ing comes from Trans­port Canada’s Air­ports Cap­i­tal As­sis­tance Pro­gram.

Dur­ing the win­ter months, Fort Chipewyan can see as lit­tle as six hours of day­light per day.

“Our in­vest­ments are in­creas­ing air­port safety and ac­ces­si­bil­ity for res­i­dents and trav­ellers, while sup­port­ing the con­tin­ued growth of lo­cal and re­gional economies,” said Gar­neau in a state­ment.

At this time of year, the air­port is the only way in and out of the com­mu­nity. The Athabasca River has frozen, stop­ping ship­ping barges from ar­riv­ing at the north­ern ham­let. How­ever, the ice is not strong enough to sup­port a win­ter road, which still has to be built ev­ery year by crews.

Coun­cil­lor Bruce Inglis, a Fort Chipewyan res­i­dent who rep­re­sents the north­ern ham­lets, said hav­ing a func­tion­ing air­port is cru­cial to the com­mu­nity.

“It’s our only link to the out­side world at the mo­ment… If there was an emer­gency or a mede­vac, they would not be able to come into the com­mu­nity,” he said. “It’s an es­sen­tial of life.”

RYAN JACK­SON / ED­MON­TON JOUR­NAL

A marker not­ing the dis­tance to var­i­ous cities around Al­berta at the Fort Chipewyan air­port in Fort Chipewyan, Alta. on Septem­ber 11, 2013. The iso­lated fly-in-fly-out com­mu­nity is only ac­ces­si­ble by fly­ing or boat­ing up the Athabasca river in the sum­mer or driv­ing a tem­po­rary ice road in the win­ter. Es­tab­lished in 1788, Fort Chipewyan is the old­est set­tle­ment in Al­berta.

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