A photo of a Covid-19 checkpoint set up on a winter road outside Fort Chipewyan in March 2020. Photo: Mikisew Cree First Nation Facebook page
The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo has hired a contractor with a specialized ice construction method to strengthen weaker sections of Fort Chipewyan’s winter road.
The contractor is working on the east and west ice crossings over the Des Rochers River. Crews hope to reopen the winter road by early February, following the road’s closure on January 13 due to safety concerns caused by warm temperatures.
The winter road plays a critical role in bringing fuel and other supplies to Fort Chipewyan. When the road opened on December 31, the ice crossings could only support light vehicles weighing no more than 5,000 kg. Cargo and fuel trucks weigh at least 45,000 kg.
Fort Chipewyan’s community leaders have had emergency plans in place since November in case weather conditions closed the winter road.
In an earlier interview with Fort McMurray Today, Chief Peter Powder of the Mikisew Cree First Nation said the First Nation had enough fuel to last the community until the end of February.
“These aren’t the first time we’ve had these issues so we’ll get together as leaders and find a path forward,” said Powder.