Yukon to apply ice BandAid to cross river reach stranded residents minister

first_imgDAWSON CITY, Yn – The Yukon government plans to apply an “ice Band-Aid” to the Yukon River outside Dawson City after the channel failed to freeze sufficiently for the second year in a row, leaving hundreds of residents stranded over the winter.Highways Minister Richard Mostyn said work on an ice bridge to the community of West Dawson will begin January and should take about three weeks to complete.“This has never been tried before in the territory. It’s a situation that I’d prefer not to have to do, but we’ve got conditions in the Klondike these days that are abnormal,” he said.“Last year, the river didn’t freeze. This year, it’s not looking like it’s going to freeze again. So we’re going to take some action.”The Yukon River usually freezes over within a few weeks after the summer ferry stops operating, allowing crossings to be made initially on foot, by snowmobile and eventually in a vehicle.Public works crews usually flood, smooth and widen the route after a few more weeks to create an ice highway.Mostyn had promised West Dawson residents after the river failed to freeze last year that the government would take action if the same thing happened this year.An ice bridge would reconnect about 200 people to the main part of town.An alternate crossing point does exist, but accessing it involves a 10 to 15 kilometre journey south of town on foot, by dog team, on skis or with a snowmobile.Mostyn said the typical recipe for building an ice bridge is to spray ice water over a river to encourage it to freeze.He said he is unsure if the equipment is available for the spraying technique, but the government is also considering other methods, which he described as old fashioned and less efficient.The “manufactured ice formation” project will cost about $100,000 to build and maintain, plus an extra $100,000 for one-time engineering costs, Mostyn said.He said he and his team are “fairly confident” the bridge can be built, though there are no guarantees.“The climate is not what it once was, and so we’re going to have to be innovative,” Mostyn said. “This is one of the projects we’re going to start with.”The strategy is a way of helping the Mother Nature, which he described as a “fickle mistress.”Wayne Potoroka, the mayor of Dawson city, said he was glad to hear news of what he called an “almost surreal” plan.“I think it’s worth a shot,” he added, saying that Yukon is feeling the effects of climate change. “This is what adaptation looks like.”Mostyn ruled out the possibility of a permanent bridge being built in the near future to West Dawson.(Whitehorse Star)last_img

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