Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Dan Davidson

VENTURE CALLED OFF – The water-spraying equipment for the ill-fated attempt to build the ice bridge in Dawson City is seen idled on Monday. The open part of the Yukon River is visible in the background. Inset Richard Mostyn

Dearth of progress sees ice bridge plan scrapped

The ice bridge construction project across the Yukon River here has been suspended for the season.

By Dan Davidson on January 23, 2018

DAWSON CITY – The ice bridge construction project across the Yukon River here has been suspended for the season.

Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn announced the change in plans via a brief message on Twitter on Monday evening.

He was unavailable for an interview in time for this afternoon’s press deadline, but planned to be available later in the day.

The project had been announced at a news conference in Whitehorse on Dec. 21.

The $200,000 venture was launched in Dawson on Jan. 16 after the equipment was brought here from the Northwest Territories.

Sunny Patch, the communications director in the cabinet office, confirmed that the weather has not been co-operating and, after less than a week’s work, it had become clear that significant progress was not being made.

Spraying operations could be seen most of last week. However, there was no activity on Saturday, very little on Sunday, and the equipment was idle on Monday.

For weeks after the initial announcement, temperatures in Dawson were well into the -30s and -40s C, but they have moderated over the last two weeks.

This morning, the meteomac online service outside the Robert Service School read -18.9, while the official Environment Canada reading at the Dawson airport, 15 to 20 minutes from town, was -21.

The ice bridge project was described by the minister as a “Band-Aid” attempt to put in an ice bridge.

It was prompted by the fact that this is the second year in a row that Highways and Public Works has been unable to construct an official river crossing between Dawson, West Dawson and Sunnydale.

There have been three other years in the last 15 when the normal crossing at the ferry landing has not frozen over.

In those cases, the government was able to take over the locally made routes and make them official.

In the winter of 2016, the official ice bridge formed late and was nearly shut down due to safety concerns mid-way through the winter.

This is not an entirely unusual state of affairs.

In a recent Star interview, former premier Tony Penikett recalled working on the tramline for the Clinton Creek Mine back in 1969, another year when the river did not freeze in front of the town.

A letter published in the Dec. 29 Star from reader Alex McBain, of Coquitlam, B.C., called the government’s ice bridge idea “dangerous” and “silly.”

McBain suggested stringing a heavy-duty logger’s cable across the river to transfer bundled goods from Dawson to West Dawson.

Meanwhile, the locally constructed rough ice route on the Klondike and Yukon rivers between Front Street and Sunnydale (see last Friday’s Star) is enabling people to take what can be a 45-minute trip to town, depending on just where in West Dawson one lives.

Comments (12)

Up 0 Down 0

Clifford on Jan 29, 2018 at 6:13 am

With all the after the fact geniuses coming forth these suggestions may assuage their chagrin giving the no offerers even more perverse pleasure.
1. String a light boom across the gap with an initial desired width and then begin building up to the desired strength.
2. If you don't like 1 then try 2 which is string a catch boom across and then breaking big chunks of float ice down to be caught at the boom where it will pile and start to stack. Spray the heck out of it to get it to hold until it becomes a true ice bridge. There are many ways to skin a cat but not for those who don't want to see success.

Up 2 Down 0

Only in Dawson on Jan 25, 2018 at 9:14 pm

Rainmaker, "Charles Hatfield, a self-proclaimed “moisture accelerator,” claimed he could create the desired precipitation, though he had many detractors, including the U.S. Weather Bureau."
"On Aug. 10, 1905, the Yukon government entered into a contract with Hatfield “in order to ensure a prosperous season for the gold mining industry by securing an ample supply of water.” Half of the $10,000 (plus travel expenses) was to be raised by subscription from the mining sector. A committee of seven delegates was selected to determine whether Hatfield fulfilled his promise of rain."

Sorry Star, couldn't find anything in my search, found the excerpt in the "other" paper. A piece done by Michael Gates a Yukon historian and sometimes adventurer based in Whitehorse. His book, Dalton’s Gold Rush Trail.

The committee determined that he did not. He got his traveling expenses, but not the 10G, Chief Issac was also quite involved. Change one word, rain - ice, LOL. Wonder if this will make the history books?

Up 3 Down 2

Sally Wright on Jan 25, 2018 at 10:47 am

Why couldn't this water squirting machine be used to reinforce and build up the existing Front Street to Sunnydale local rough road mentioned in the last paragraph of the article?
There are big disconnects between the Liberal Govt and reality.

Up 9 Down 1

Yukon Watchdog on Jan 24, 2018 at 8:45 am

Thank you for putting a stop to this complete waste of my tax dollars that, if successful, would have only served a few West Dawson residents. The decision to spend so much money on such a small group (who knowingly chose to live on the other side) is right up there with all the money spent on the Ross River bridge for how many people? Come on, Minister of Highways!!! Your position is to serve the greater population, not to bend over backwards for a couple of "special" groups.

Up 1 Down 2

moose101 on Jan 24, 2018 at 5:41 am

Did the City of Dawson change the flow of the Yukon River a few years ago when they were working on that plugged sewer line? Does some one know what they actually did to get equipment out there? I know they got in trouble with fisheries. It seems like too much of a coincidence freezing problems have occurred since then .

Up 6 Down 0

jc on Jan 23, 2018 at 9:31 pm

Ah those Liberal big spenders. Oh well, it's just money. It'll help Silvers get re-elected though.

Up 1 Down 4

BnR on Jan 23, 2018 at 7:13 pm

Consider. While it would be a mistake to build a bridge solely for the convenience of the hardy few who winter in west Dawson, it does make sense in the big picture. Dawson is growing, so a bridge to west Dawson would open up more opportunities for residential lots, specifically west of Sunnydale and further up the Top of the World from the present residential area. As part of a new bridge, perhaps re-route the highway and have the bridge upstream of The Klondike, terminating in Sunnydale, thereby having traffic bypassing front street.
Utilize the island(s) just up from the mouth of The Klondike? I bet Dawson residents would be happy to get rid of all the traffic lineups for the ferry.

Up 5 Down 0

ralpH on Jan 23, 2018 at 4:44 pm

Stupid stupid idea to begin with. Water is much too fast for this to work. Now 200 grande is peed away and nothing to show for it.

Up 4 Down 1

ProScience Greenie on Jan 23, 2018 at 3:16 pm

The last paragraph of the article is the best paragraph.

$200,000 for this venture? Same results would have been achieved if every Yukon citizens took a $5 bill out of their wallet and thew it in the wood stove. Can we all get a $5 discount come tax time?

Up 4 Down 1

Coquitlam? on Jan 23, 2018 at 3:10 pm

Why in the world would the Star quote a armchair expert from Coquitlam, BC who happened to write a letter to the paper? I imagine if this setup was brought down from the NWT it was probably because its been known to work in the north, and has been used in similar situations in the past. For whatever reason it didn't work in this specific instance, however if anyone wanted the advice of someone from the lower mainland where people can't even drive when it snows I imagine they would have asked for it.

Up 4 Down 0

Wes on Jan 23, 2018 at 3:07 pm

Was that $200k prorated?
Mostyn, you could have saved a pile of money if you had read the comments on the various news sites when you first floated (pun intended) this idea.

Up 4 Down 1

Sarah W. on Jan 23, 2018 at 3:06 pm

OMG what did they think would happen? This was the dumbest, ill-conceived and most expensive science experiment ever. Start consulting on your hair-brained schemes and save us some $$ for real projects.

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