The Covid-19 checkpoint on Highway 1 has been relocated from Enterprise to the NWT/Alberta border.
The move took place on May 14.
The checkpoint had been set up since late March at Enterprise, about 82 km north of the border. It is the first NWT community that highway travellers enter when driving from Alberta.
Speaking on May 13, Ivan Russell, director of public safety with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA), said the move had been under consideration for some time.
“This is primarily to address concerns that people had in wanting to access the area,” he said of the region south of Enterprise. “As the Emerging Wisely plan comes to implementation and many people want to get more outside and enjoy our lovely weather, there’s a great deal of interest in the cabins and campgrounds and falls in that area. So it’s allowing much easier access for residents to go to that area.”
Plus, he noted there was concern among some NWT residents that people from Alberta have been coming north and using the area.
Russell explained there were operational factors that had to be considered before the move to the border was made.
“It does add a three-hour roundtrip to anyone who may go and work at the border checkpoint,” he said, using the driving time for Hay River. “So we have to make sure that there’s accommodations available and all the supporting facilities like food, showers, washroom facilities and so on are available to anyone who’s working there.”
The MACA official noted the workers do 12-hour shifts.
“So after 12 hours, you can’t turn around and drive for an hour and a half,” he said. “So they must be accommodated at that location.”
The workers will be using a facility at the border that can accommodate six people.
The checkpoint, which will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, has been set up in front of the 60th Parallel Visitor Information Centre.
Vehicles travelling northward are directed off Highway 1 into the centre’s parking area, where they go through the checkpoint.
Travellers heading southward can drive right past the checkpoint, since they are then in Alberta and won’t be able to return to the NWT until meeting Covid-19 restrictions.
When it was in Enterprise, travellers heading southward had to go through the checkpoint. That was because some of them were not leaving the NWT, but were visiting places like Alexandra Falls.
Craig McMaster, the deputy mayor of the Hamlet of Enterprise, said he never heard any complaints from residents while the checkpoint was in their community.
“It’s better at the border,” he said, “but I think everybody in the community understood it was necessary to have it where we had it for as long as we had it.”
Still, McMaster said residents won’t miss the flashing lights in the community.
When the checkpoint was first established in Enterprise, MACA noted the location was more sustainable than the border and offered more support