Fort Chipewyan airport gets $1.5 million funding from federal government
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.”
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.