Ottawa, Yukon pledge $360M for new roads to resource development in territory

The Yukon will get a total of just over $360 million in federal and territorial funding to improve road access to two mineral-rich areas, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Yukon Premier Sandy Silver announced today from Whitehorse.

Trudeau announced the funding during his 1st trip to Yukon as PM

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a community event Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre in Whitehorse, Yukon on Friday. (Joel Krahn/The Canadian Press)

The Yukon will get a total of just over $360 million in federal and territorial funding to improve road access to two mineral-rich areas, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Yukon Premier Sandy Silver announced today.

The two appeared with Yukon MP Larry Bagnell at a media event in Whitehorse on the second day of Trudeau's Yukon trip, and his first trip to the territory as prime minister.

The funding will help improve road access to the Dawson Range in central Yukon and the Nahanni Range road in the southeastern part of the territory.

Trudeau, along with Liberal MP Larry Bagnell, left, and Yukon Premier Sandy Silver, right, were in Whitehorse on Saturday to announce over $360 million in infrastructure funding for the territory. (Dave Croft/CBC)

More than 650 kilometres of road will be built along with other infrastructure for the Yukon Resource Gateway Project. 

In the Dawson Range, four separate public road systems will be upgraded and the Nahanni Range road will be upgraded from its junction with the Campbell Highway to the border between Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

"This is a big announcement and I'm excited about the impacts it's going to have in the coming months and coming years," Trudeau said, calling the project "an investment in Yukon's people."

Of the $360 million, $247.4 million will be from Ottawa and $112.8 million from the Yukon government.

Trudeau responds to criticism from northern premiers

The announcement comes just days after northern premiers slammed Trudeau for "unilaterally" setting a five-year moratorium on new oil and gas licensing in all Arctic waters.  

Premiers Sandy Silver of Yukon, Peter Taptuna of Nunavut and Bob McLeod of the Northwest Territories, left to right, stand together against a federal government decision to ban oil and gas development in Arctic waters. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)
Silver, N.W.T. Premier Bob McLeod and Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna once again condemned the lack of consultation on the ban from the federal government at a territorial meeting of premiers in Yellowknife this week.

Trudeau announced the moratorium last December alongside a similar ban implemented by Barack Obama near the end of his U.S. presidency.

"We saw an opportunity to move forward in a very short order with a moratorium of Arctic drilling," Trudeau said Saturday. He said he called the northern premiers to let them know about his decision. 

"It was something I knew mattered deeply to an awful lot of people across the North and we seized that opportunity," Trudeau said. "I called the premiers to explain this was an opportunity that just came up and we needed to leap on it immediately."    

With files from Dave Croft