Feds put up hundreds of millions of dollars for Yukon infrastructure projects

Details on specific projects have yet to be announced.

Money designated for roads, buildings, internet, recreation, public transit and more

Amarjeet Sohi, federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, and Premier Sandy Silver sign the 10-year infrastructure spending agreement in Ottawa Thursday. (Government of Canada)

The federal and Yukon governments announced almost $600 million in potential infrastructure spending over the next 10 years at a news conference Thursday morning in Ottawa.

Amarjeet Sohi, federal minister of Infrastructure and Communities, and Yukon Premier Sandy Silver said the spending will happen through the Investing in Canada infrastructure plan.

Silver did not want to provide specifics at the news conference. But the general categories include green infrastructure, culture and recreation infrastructure, rural and northern communities infrastructure, and Whitehorse public transit.

The federal government is putting up more than $445 million of the total with territorial, First Nation and municipal governments expected to provide the rest.

A Whitehorse city transit bus. Almost $10 million is designated to upgrade the city's public transit. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

Projects discussed in the territory in recent years that could qualify are: retrofitting public buildings to make them more energy efficient, upgrading the North Klondike Highway, linking Yukon to either the Northwest Territories or Alaska with a fibre optic line to prevent interruptions to internet service, and a new skateboard park in Whitehorse.

Almost $10 million is designated to upgrade Whitehorse public transit.

A spokesperson for the premier, Sunny Patch, said the funding does not include any of the millions of dollars announced last September for new and upgraded mining roads.

Municipalities and First Nations now involved

Historically, the Yukon government has covered the full 25 percent contribution Ottawa expects other levels of government to contribute.

But municipalities were warned two years ago by the previous Yukon Party government that the amount of federal money on offer was getting so big, the territorial government might not be able to use it all. It would not be able afford its 25 percent.

That is reflected in the agreement signed Thursday. Municipalities and First Nations are now potential contributors.

Dawson City mayor Wayne Potoroka said it was expected.

Dawson City mayor Wayne Potoroka says municipalities are now being asked to contribute to the cost sharing on infrastructure projects. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

"There might not be enough money in the Yukon coffers over the next several years to actually cover the full 25 percent that they have historically covered," he said.

"So as a way to make sure that we don't leave any of that money on the table they are suggesting that municipalities and First Nations where they can, can access that money if they can come up with their own 25 percent," said Potoroka.

Potoroka said Dawson City's highest priority is a new recreation centre. The others are the "meat and potatoes" of municipal government, roads, sewers and residential lot development.

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