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Environment
South Slave

Hay River, West Point seek federal cash to tackle road erosion


One of Hay River’s roads is eroding into the river following spring breakup this year. The town’s plan to fix it rests on federal funding coming through.

A section of Alaska Road has been closed since the spring of 2021, when ice jammed along the bank in the West Point First Nation area.

“The cracking on the road surface has become progressively worse through the summer season, with additional sections threatening to break off and cause further damage to the road surface,” noted a report to the town council dated November 8.

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The affected stretch of road will stay closed “until funding is identified for the recommended solution,” said senior administrative officer Glenn Smith in an email.



The two options examined by the town and West Point First Nation are either relocating that section of road or installing 100 metres of sheet piles to form an interlocking wall along the shoreline.

Following consultation, the two governments decided the sheet pile solution would provide the best protection from further erosion, and would be less intrusive than relocating part of the road.

They hope to receive $1.2 million from the federal government’s disaster mitigation and adaptation fund to complete the work, which would also involve some flood protection upgrades.

Smith said the application will be submitted by November 15 with a view to completing the work next year.

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Because the town is partnering with West Point, there is an opportunity to receive 100 percent of the funding from the federal government.

There are no plans for interim measures this fall to protect the road from further erosion when the river melts next spring. 

This isn’t the first time Hay River has applied for climate change funds to address issues related to its berms, or strips of land between the road and water.

In 2020, the town received money to study the impacts of erosion and high water levels on the area, and purchased a temporary Aquadam system in 2021 to mitigate flood water entering the community near Oxbow Creek.

However, a permanent solution that allows for one-way drainage from the land into the river is still needed.

West Point Chief Kenneth Cayen wrote in a letter of support that the sheet pile wall “will provide better long-term disaster protection for our community.”

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