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Inuvik runway extension will now cost $230M, Ottawa says


Work to extend Inuvik’s airport runway by 3,000 feet will now cost $230 million, $80 million more than initially announced in 2019, the federal government says.

In March 2022, Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler said the project was already $40 million over budget. All of the new money required to complete the work is coming from the Department of National Defence.

Extending Inuvik’s runway from 6,000 ft to 9,000 ft is primarily seen as an Arctic sovereignty measure, allowing the Royal Canadian Air Force to operate a wider range of aircraft from the town, which is considered a key “forward operating location.”

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Semmler said last year that she understood work had been halted “because a detailed engineering budget … is approximately $40 million higher than the government’s initial costing.”

Federal infrastructure minister Dominic LeBlanc subsequently told Cabin Radio Ottawa would find the money needed.

Thursday’s announcement of extra funding said the extra $80 million is now required “due to delays from the Covid-19 pandemic, supply chain issues and rising material costs.”

“The prime contractor is an Indigenous joint venture and an example of how Indigenous industry supports the Department of National Defence’s mission in the North,” the federal government stated in a news release, justifying the cost.

“The project will see the existing runway extended by 3,000 feet while modernizing its lighting, navigational systems, and military aircraft arrestor system.”

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The NWT’s Liberal MP, Michael McLeod, was quoted as saying: “Not only does funding projects like the Inuvik runway extension ensure our personnel are well-prepared to respond to any challenges we may face, it also creates economic opportunities in the region. This increased contribution will continue to benefit the regional economy over the next several years.”