High water, debris suspend ferry service at Liard crossing

Last modified: June 17, 2020 at 6:00pm

A helicopter company is providing airlifts after high water levels and debris suspended ferry service across the Liard River to and from Fort Simpson.

The Department of Infrastructure said on Tuesday that the ferry would not be able to operate due to conditions on the river, potentially stranding residents and business travellers on either side.

Great Slave Helicopters subsequently announced it would send a helicopter from its Yellowknife base to provide transport across the river for anyone requiring it.


Trips were priced at $265, base manager Paul Grech posted to a Fort Simpson Facebook group.

Scott Dinsmore, an engineer at Great Slave Helicopters, said conditions on the Liard River had kept the company “going at it all day.”

“We had a machine brought over from Yellowknife this morning and we did a whole bunch of slinging of gear and lumber and whatnot,” he said.

Grech was bringing a set of passengers across the river as he spoke, Dinsmore added.

CKLB first reported the ferry suspension and the helicopter company’s offer.


Dinsmore said the rise in need was unexpected. As the local base had three helicopters out on duty, another was dispatched from Yellowknife to assist.

“When this dropped on us late yesterday afternoon it was like whoa, Nelly,” Dinsmore said. “But we’re coping. We’re handling it all. It’s all getting done.”

Anyone using Great Slave Helicopters for a ride is required to follow regulations set out on June 9, such as wearing their own non-medical mask for the trip.