Ryan Leef promises airport upgrades in Dawson City, Yukon

Yukon candidate Ryan Leef says a re-elected Conservative government would spend up to $30 million to improve Dawson City's airport. Leef promises a paved runway, or possibly an entirely new airport at a different location.

Conservative candidate says re-elected Harper government would spend up to $30M on airport

'There are countless benefits to this project,' said Ryan Leef, at the Air North hangar in Whitehorse on Tuesday morning. (Dave Croft/CBC)

Yukon Conservative candidate Ryan Leef is promising major upgrades to the Dawson City airport, if Stephen Harper's government is re-elected.

Leef announced Tuesday that his party would spend up to $30 million on improvements, including a paved runway or possibly a new location.

"There are countless benefits to this project," Leef said at a campaign event in Whitehorse. "Increased capacity for tourism, better service to the mining sector, more capacity for cargo service."

Leef says the runway could be paved for about $8 million, meaning there could also be money leftover to pave the runway in Old Crow. But if a decision is made to move Dawson City's airport to a new location, the cost would be considerably more than $8 million.

One of the proponents of the upgrades, Air North, says it welcomes the Conservative promise (the other proponent is the Chief Isaac Development Corporation, an arm of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation). The airline has said its regional routes are challenged by inadequate and outdated infrastructure.

Air North president Joe Sparling also said a paved runway in Dawson City could make the community an even bigger tourist attraction.

"We kind of regard Dawson [as] being a bit of gem with respect to the Yukon tourist industry," Sparling said. 

"I think paving the runway is going to do nothing but increase the opportunities to further develop that."

Sparling said a paved runway would also add to the profitability of some new aircraft Air North is buying. Two ATR 42 twin turboprop planes will soon replace the company's existing aircraft on the Dawson City to Inuvik, N.W.T, route.


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