Upgrades to Inuvik’s Mike Zubko Airport are proceeding on schedule, according to Infrastructure Minister Diane Archie, who gave an update on the project in response to questions from Inuvik Twin-Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler during the Oct. 22 sitting of the legislature.

Concept art of the proposed new Inuvik Airport terminal at Mike Zubko airport, which has been in the works since 2016. Construction of the new terminal was hoped to start this summer, but now is expected to begin in 2021. Photo courtesy GNWT.

Semmler told the legislature she had made several attempts to get information on the timeline of the project but did not receive a response. She noted she instead learned of the details of the plan by attending a public forum on the future of the airport.

“In December, I reached out to the infrastructure department for a briefing on all the projects that are planned for Inuvik,” she said. “With no answers or information, I ended up just attending a public presentation on the airport and the design.

“To this date, I still have no response on exactly what is happening and when we will begin to see progress with this new airport project. ”

She asked Archie for a list of the projects being planned in the expansion. Archie noted there are three separate projects for the airport — the new air terminal building, civil improvements to make the airport more resilient to the impacts of climate change and a 3,000-foot runway extension.

Semmler then asked what businesses were awarded contracts from those three projects and then followed up on how the GNWT is ensuring northern businesses are being included in the project. Archie noted the air terminal building was being designed by Stantec, the runway extension is being designed by Associated Engineering and the demolition of the old RCMP Hanger was awarded to Delta Northern Alliance (DNA) of Inuvik — an Inuvialuit and Gwich’in owned business.

Archie added the GWNT was in negotiation with DNA to do the physical construction of the new airport terminal.

“The department will be providing the completed design documents to DNA in early 2021, so that is just after the new year, to begin the negotiated contract process,” she said. “The runway extension is a 100-percent federally funded project.

“Having said that, the GNWT must abide by the requirements to ensure that contracts are awarded and managed in accordance with the federal policies and their procedures.”

Semmler finished her questioning by asking what the current timeline was to begin and complete the work.

“If it were up to me, it would be started yesterday,” said Archie. “However, in the worst-case scenario, we anticipate the air terminal building construction to begin in the fall of 2021 and to be completed by 2023-2024. We also anticipate the pre-construction work, which it’s called the granular production, for the civil improvements to begin as early as February 2021 and the construction expected to be completed by 2022

“Currently, there is no funding agreement in place for the construction of the runway extension. However, the Department of Infrastructure is anticipating discussions with the department of defence by November 2021.”

Eric Bowling

Your source for all things happening in the Beaufort Delta. Eric jumped at the chance to write for the Inuvik Drum after cutting his teeth in Alberta. He enjoys long walks, loud music and strong coffee....

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