North

Shelves bare at Whitehorse grocery store, after Alaska Hwy closed due to washout

The highway, which is the main supply route for goods coming into the Yukon, has been closed since a section of the Alaska Highway in northern B.C. was washed out on Friday evening, restricting access to the Yukon by vehicle. 

A detour on the road is scheduled for this afternoon

A portrait of a man standing in front of empty shelves at a store.
Mark Wykes, the owner of Wykes' Your Independent Grocer in Whitehorse, said the shelves have become bare since the closure of the Alaska Highway. (Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada)

Yukon grocers are watching their stock closely after the Alaska Highway, the main supply route for goods coming into the Yukon, closed over the weekend.

The highway closed after a section in northern B.C. was washed out on Friday evening, restricting access to the Yukon by vehicle. 

It's lead to some grocery stores to limit purchases of things like eggs, milk and toilet paper while they wait for restocks. Produce supplies in some stores are also dwindling.

Mark Wykes, the owner of Wykes' Your Independent Grocer in downtown Whitehorse, said the barer-than-usual shelves are partially due to an increase in sales.

"Anytime there's an interruption to our supply chain due to fire, or in this case water, the word gets around town pretty fast and we have higher than anticipated sales," Wykes said.

An empty basket among empty shelves. A sign reads 'due to trucking issues, our stock has not yet arrived. Sorry for any inconvenience.'
Wykes' Your Independent Grocer in Whitehorse is among the stores facing food shortages after the Alaska Highway was closed over the weekend. That's when part of the road was destroyed by a washout. (Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada)

He said the store isn't putting in strict limits of what people can buy, but it is watching to ensure people are "buying responsibly."

His store received a truck of food on Monday, which contained a few pallets of produce and some non-staple type foods. He said Yukon Gardens just delivered some fresh Yukon produce as well. 

"We've been hit hard," he said, adding he checked in with other big retailers in the city, including the neighborhood stores.

"We've all had increased sales volume and the produce, of course, we all feel it first."

Wykes said he shares trucking with Superstore, and their produce often comes from Calgary, with some dry goods from Edmonton and other eastern municipalities like Regina.

The main route for this truck is usually the Alaska Highway he said. 

Typically, he said his store counts on trucks arriving daily.

Wykes said residents should not be too worried, however, as he expects a truck with perishables including produce, bakery items, poultry and more to come Monday afternoon.

"So we should be set back up by dinnertime, but at latest, tomorrow morning," he said.

A section of the Alaska Highway in northern B.C. was washed out on Friday evening, restricting access to the Yukon by vehicle. (Yukon Highways and Public Works/ Twitter)

Detour opening

There's more good news. A detour will open for the Alaska Highway starting at 3 p.m. Monday at about kilometre 897, according to an update from the federal government. 

The detour will be single lane alternating traffic.

People are asked to follow the pilot car and obey traffic signs

With files from Roch Shannon Fraser

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