Whitehorse Daily Star

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GOING NOWHERE – A major washout has severed the Alaska Highway south of Watson Lake. Photo courtesy of YUKON PROTECTIVE SERVICES

Information scarce on road repairs

A washout on the Alaska Highway south of Watson Lake over the Canada Day weekend has had immediate ripple effects in Whitehorse and other areas of the Yukon.

By Tim Giilck on July 4, 2022

A washout on the Alaska Highway south of Watson Lake over the Canada Day weekend has had immediate ripple effects in Whitehorse and other areas of the Yukon.

According to a post on the Yukon Department of Highways and Public Works on Facebook, the Alaska Highway has been closed at KM 898.

“This is about 50 to 60 kilometres south of Watson Lake, or 125 kilometres north of Liard Hot Springs on the BC side of the border near Contact Creek. Highway 37 (Stewart-Cassiar) remains open for use,” the post said.

Some trucks are using that route to keep some Whitehorse supermarkets stocked on a belated basis.

Photos and a video posted of the washout on social media shows a huge gap where the highway has been washed out, creating a hole that appears to be about three metres deep.

The Yukon government told the Star this morning that the British Columbia government is looking after repairs.

But the B.C. government issued a statement to the Star saying the highway is actually under federal control.

A representative from the federal government said the matter is one for British Columbia’s highways department.

“For this particular matter, please contact B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure,” said Hicham Ayoun, senior communications advisor, Media Relations, Communications Group Transport Canada/Government of Canada.

Highway 37, the alternate route into the Yukon, is currently open but is being menaced by the two different wildfires.

“The B.C. Wildfire Service is responding to two wildfires in the northeast corner of the Cassiar Fire Zone, which may be visible from Highway 37 or from surrounding locations, including Watson Lake, Yukon. Currently these wildfires are not impacting the travel corridor.”

On Saturday, a few hours after the washout, the Whitehorse Real Canadian Superstore had posted on its Facebook page it was limiting the purchase of staples such as toilet paper, Kleenex, milk, eggs and paper towels to two per person in anticipation of supply shortages.

By Sunday morning, there was no toilet paper in stock at the store, and Kleenex was in short stock as well.

Signs had been posted on the front doors – fuelling the hoarding, many believe.

No signs were visible on either Walmart or Wykes Independent about shortages, but there was short stock of produce in the Independent.

Owner Mark Wykes did not return a call from the Star seeking information about the shortages.

Supplies of paper products such as toilet paper were scarce at Walmart as well.

On the Superstore’s Facebook page, Dawn Fran wrote, “I went to Superstore and no Kleenex, well they’re was but it was in boxes. Dollarama was out. Walmart just a few.”

Yukon Highways and Public Works Minister Nils Clarke was not available to comment on the problems before press time this afternoon.

“That’s how most of our stuff comes up, so it’s a definite inconvenience.,” said Watson Lake MLA Patti McLeod of the Yukon Party.

McLeod said she drove back to Watson Lake from Whitehorse on Sunday, and noticed a steady stream of traffic.

She said she hoped people were being diverted from the highway at Fort Nelson, and directed to the detour around the Cassiar Highway.

McLeod said she hadn’t noticed any increase in people staying in Watson Lake as yet.

High water and flooding closed the Alaska Highway for several days in June 2012.

That prompted panic buying in Whitehorse supermarkets, with shelves quickly stripped of dairy products, products, fresh produce and diapers.

Comments (34)

Up 0 Down 0

MITCH on Jul 12, 2022 at 4:31 pm

This is Canada, information is scarce on every little thing.

Up 0 Down 0

Will on Jul 10, 2022 at 6:51 pm

Previous neglect of any meaningful road maintenance by the much maligned Yukon Party (and rightly so) is now coming to full fruition with the enhanced volumes of road water.

Up 5 Down 0

Paul Harach on Jul 10, 2022 at 12:30 pm

All of you who commented on what an excellent job the Yukon Government does on roads really need to get out and drive some of these so called awesome roads...
Within the City of Whitehorse between Trails North and Crestview the road is literally falling apart. Earlier this year (before the long deep cracks in the road were partially filled it was like driving on obstacle course, especially if you were on a motorcycle. Falling into one of those on a motorcycle at any highway speed could have easily resulted in a fatality. Last week I saw a vehicle with a blown tire on a 50 KMH secondary road, yup the potholes are that large and deep. Unbelievably there was fresh cold mix patches placed that day on potholes further up that same road, but YG Crews had to drive around these giant potholes to get to the smaller ones they patched. You can drive 30km in any direction North of Whitehorse and see road damage from Beavers or potential flooding over the road from Beavers in 5 different places.
I may not be as old as some of you, and yes still I remember the dust and the washboard of the old highways. I also remember them as they got paved, chipped, and rebuilt. The shape of our roads today is a far cry from what they were 15 years ago when they were awesome to drive.

Up 2 Down 1

Bill on Jul 9, 2022 at 11:40 am

@ chuck farley

Yes Chuck I know full well where the wash out occurred and who has responsibility. In fact I did not write that it was otherwise. Not sure where you saw me write otherwise?

Up 1 Down 3

Chuck Farley on Jul 8, 2022 at 5:35 pm

Bill; YTG does excellent highway work within the Yukon; in this case BC Highways is responsible for damage control on this washout.

Up 5 Down 0

MITCH on Jul 8, 2022 at 2:48 pm

@ Bill - YOU, my distinguished Sourdough friend, deserve a place in the next Colourful 5%, for conspicuous gallantry. Indeed, we are a territory, that is why we fought to remain "THE" Yukon Territory, not just any old Yukon territory, such as in Oklahoma. Please live long and educate those who are coming into our fold with preconceived notions of what is best for us, without the life experience to justify it. Good on ya sir, enjoy the weekend.

Up 7 Down 2

MITCH on Jul 8, 2022 at 8:37 am

@ Nathan Living (on my dime) - No Nathan, we are not "entitled" up here with transfer payments, we are held hostage from the freedom to pursue industry and a means of production of local goods for export by Ontarians who, having left their own soiled province, now think they are the moral authourity of our environment in the territory because YESAB. Those Yesab rejects should go home and compost themselves in their own dirt. We have a compost program here if that is too far or too much of an inconvenience.

Up 5 Down 2

Bill on Jul 7, 2022 at 10:07 pm

@ Mick aka Mr Facts

I do believe sonny that you need to brush up on Yukon history. The Yukon Territory Act of 1898 established what is the Yukon as a Territory, not a province. It is correct to cite the Yukon government as the Yukon Territorial Government just as we cite Alberta (or any other province) as the the Province of Alberta. You can change the name but it is the Yukon Territorial Government. Let me give you an analogy: a hog is a hog; if you put lipstick on the hog's lips it is still a hog.

Your derisive comment: "I'm glad BC has responsibility for this. If it was the Yukon it would be closed for months while they hire useless consultants and ho and hum about creating safe spaces for animals, lmao" solicited my response in defence of the Yukon Highways department. I never made any mention about where the wash out occurred - it was you that alluded to the "what if".

Next time - before bellowing like a wounded bull that just got castrated take some time and learn about the Yukon. Don't just arrive and because you have been here one or two winters think for one moment you know everything about the north and our culture. Surprise, surprise - you don't and by the sounds of things you never will.

Perhaps spend some time talking to all the elders in the Yukon - you just might learn a tad or two.

Up 4 Down 0

zelmo on Jul 7, 2022 at 5:14 pm

Information is scarce in the information age, what gives?

Up 2 Down 6

Mick on Jul 7, 2022 at 1:34 pm

@ Bill

A couple things to correct there for a self professed oldtimer.
YTG hasn't been a thing for more than a decade. It's Yukon Government or simply YG.

The washout was on the BC side of the border and the repairs were done with their crew, not ours.
Try to keep up.

Up 6 Down 4

Lee on Jul 6, 2022 at 12:42 pm

A beaver dam failed causing to the road to wash out . The Beaver people are not happy.

Up 7 Down 9

Nathan Living on Jul 5, 2022 at 6:12 pm

I think GY should have a warehouse full of sprout seeds and toilet paper, hamburger, frozen milk and firewood that we can get if there is a reset or disaster or major problem with roads being closed due to wildfire, flooding, insurrection or whatever.

We also need a government stockpile of gas for our ATVs, dirt bikes and skidoos.

We are entitled here with Federal transfer payments from the rest of Canada and I see no issue taking it to a stratospheric level.
Entitlement rules here, why change it up with thought and compassion and sharing?

Up 6 Down 4

Bill on Jul 5, 2022 at 4:49 pm

@ Max Mack

You lad are definitely one those lost in the wilderness. You are also likely one of those that is part of frenzy pack.

I witnessed first hand what was nothing more than hoarding buying by a lot of people over the weekend in our store. It was disgusting and reminded me of Black Friday sales in the US, where the shoppers almost riot and fight for goods.

Up 9 Down 4

Max Mack on Jul 5, 2022 at 3:42 pm

Can the Star or any other newspaper provide proof of "hoarding" and "panic buying" other than anecdotal evidence and fact-free assertions?

Stores only carry so much stock at any one time. Without trucks constantly resupplying us, stores would run out of most essential goods within days.

That is exactly what has happened.
Panic buying? Hmmm. Maybe to some extent. Mostly, the supply chain is broken and suppliers are running out as would be expected.

p.s. Walmart had the same sign in their store warning that essentials would be limited to 2 per customer. Just like Superstore. I know, I was there.

Up 5 Down 4

Charlie's Aunt on Jul 5, 2022 at 1:16 pm

@ Matt, I guess you are young enough not to remember squares of newsprint hanging on a nail in an outhouse, but hanging a computer for those who read on line may not help much. Apart from that, hoarding TP is weird, most of us keep a small amount in stock and don't wait to buy until we are completely out. People bought with Covid because they expected to have the sh*ts but highway out is not the same at all.

Up 18 Down 14

MITCH on Jul 5, 2022 at 9:26 am

Folks, this is nothing, we should be celebrating our diversity and preparing for mandatory booster shots. Say 10 "I am a horrible white persons" and self-flagellate, everything will be right as rain (or is it left as rain?)

Up 22 Down 7

Bill on Jul 5, 2022 at 8:19 am

@ Mr Facts

Well you have it wrong pal. Our YTG Highways department is one of the best in Canada for keeping the roads safe and open. You obviously have not lived here very long. Must be another import with little understanding of reality or history.

Up 24 Down 3

John on Jul 5, 2022 at 8:16 am

What we see here is pure and simple - 'I am more important than anyone else - get out of my way.'
A display of selfishness at it's best. No respect or care for anyone else. It is all about me.

We never had these extremes here in the Yukon before, to this extent. I clearly remember the days when faced with similar situations the community looked beyond the individual and did not go into a hoarding overdrive showing disrespect for everyone else in the community. We saw this during pandemic and it appears to have now become the norm. We behaved like intelligent human beings.

Those of us who have been blessed to call the Yukon our home are generally disgusted with this slovenly behaviour. Sad, it is truly sad to see this kind of display of greed and self importance.

Up 7 Down 5

Matt on Jul 4, 2022 at 8:49 pm

Toilet paper is bought out first cause it keeps and it is darn scary to run out of.

Up 14 Down 10

bonanzajoe on Jul 4, 2022 at 8:41 pm

Leave it up to liberal governments to argue about the problem before creating a solution.

Up 11 Down 7

bonanzajoe on Jul 4, 2022 at 8:39 pm

@Politico. Ask left wing liberal politicians, they know all about the diverse use of toilet paper.

Up 14 Down 3

Wilf Carter on Jul 4, 2022 at 8:13 pm

Alaska Highway open one lane. 14 trucks coming through with toilet paper on them!

Up 19 Down 1

Jeff Donaldson on Jul 4, 2022 at 7:06 pm

Having moved out of the Yukon for Alberta I feel bad for you all and wish you well. I travelled twice south on the same route prior to moving and passed over that spot prior to that storm that hit. We were in Fort Nelson when we heard and can say with knowledge that there are many more areas just waiting to fail from flooding and landslides.
I hope both Yukon and BC seriously look at this incident and plan ahead accordingly as more will come as that roadway ages.
Thanks for some good times Yukon.
Hugs and Kisses and all the best!
JD Retired Veteran.

Up 24 Down 10

Wilf Carter on Jul 4, 2022 at 6:20 pm

The reason there is a shortage on Toilet paper is because all BS coming out of Ottawa.

Up 16 Down 5

Don’t Put COW on The Job on Jul 4, 2022 at 6:04 pm

If this much more serious highway washout is managed like the COW handled the simple Robert Service Way slide it will be months before the Alaska highway is opened again. Oh wait, in the real world that amount of time is unrealistic and can’t happen.

Up 8 Down 4

Smw on Jul 4, 2022 at 5:37 pm

Mr. Facts....this isn't a BC Govt problem. The alaska highway in BC is the federal governments responsibility. They have ZERO timeline as to when they are going to fix it.

Up 13 Down 0

panic over on Jul 4, 2022 at 5:36 pm

The ALCAN is now open at Contact Creek with a single lane detour.

Up 10 Down 8

North_of_60 on Jul 4, 2022 at 5:24 pm

Why do so many idiots hoard TP whenever there's a supply disruption?
For the people who believe "thinking is hard, so just do what the government says", the biggest fear in their lives is not being able to wipe their anus.
As long as they have TP, then they can welcome the realistic prospect of C0vax boosters every nine months, and masks all winter, to keep their "freedom".

Up 10 Down 2

drum on Jul 4, 2022 at 5:12 pm

When the Army ran things they brought in a Bailey Bridge - it was fixed immediately.

Up 16 Down 1

Geoff Capp on Jul 4, 2022 at 4:47 pm

I can't believe that Public Works Canada and the B.C. government are pointing at each other for who is responsible. Quite clearly, PW Canada has been responsible for most of the BC section (from a point between Wonowon and Fort St. John north to the border between Lower Post and Watson Lake) since about 1968 when the Canadian Army pulled out. PWC has a huge sign north of Fort St. John saying it's theirs.

Up 60 Down 1

DWD on Jul 4, 2022 at 4:28 pm

No mention that the panic buying is nonsensical since they flew up goods on planes in place of the trucks in 2012. I am sure it can be done again if need be. This said, there is a shortage on goods already all over.

Up 78 Down 45

Mr Facts on Jul 4, 2022 at 4:20 pm

I'm glad BC has responsibility for this. If it was the Yukon it would be closed for months while they hire useless consultants and ho and hum about creating safe spaces for animals, lmao.

Up 70 Down 1

Politico on Jul 4, 2022 at 4:03 pm

Why is it toilet paper that gets bought out first?

Up 79 Down 1

My Opinion on Jul 4, 2022 at 3:45 pm

So what is with people? Good Lord. What does Toilet paper have to do with a road closure? If Canada ever has a serious disaster these people will lose their minds and run in circles. Oh well it will thin the herd.

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