Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

SITTING VACANT – Renovation work at the city’s airport means there will be no permanent food service at the site until after the summer tourist season winds down. It’s expected a new restaurant will be in place for the fall after the last one closed in February 2019.

New airport restaurant coming in fall: YG

With more than $300,000 worth of upgrade work at the city’s airport now awarded, the Yukon government hopes to have a new restaurant in place by the fall

By Palak Mangat on May 2, 2019

With more than $300,000 worth of upgrade work at the city’s airport now awarded, the Yukon government hopes to have a new restaurant in place by the fall – after the summer tourist season.

A Feb. 25 YG release explained that the existing Shanthi’s Airport Restaurant would close that month after being open for just shy of a decade. A family had run the eatery since November 2009.

Highways and Public Works (HPW) spokespeople told the Star last month that a tender for new food services at Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport was on track to go out later this spring. The goal to welcome a new restaurant at the site for this fall was also still on track.

Communications analyst Meredith McDonald confirmed that renovations at the airport began in March as promised in that release. They included “repair work to basic building systems, such as plumbing.”

Those plumbing works came with a price-tag of $94,000. The contract was awarded to Whitehorse-based K. Dawe (the other bidder was Wildstone Construction from Penticton, B.C., at more than $320,000). The substantial performance date for this plumbing work is set at June 28.

Other work referenced by the department is HVAC upgrades, for which Arcrite Northern Ltd. of Whitehorse was given the nod for at $227,555 (with the other bidder being Dynamic Systems of Whitehorse at $239,000). The substantial performance date for this HVAC work is set at a similar date of June 28.

Saying these two tenders “have varying degrees of impact on the restaurant space,” another HPW spokesperson, Brittany Cross, added last week that several of the activities at the airport began in March.

“With the closure of the restaurant, the opportunity to complete additional renovations presented itself, so we are taking advantage of that and have included the additional work as part of our work plan,” Cross wrote.

“There has been no delay and our planned timeline has not been altered.”

YG is currently preparing tender documents for the new restaurant which are to come out in spring, McDonald had added.

The department also said the “lessee gave appropriate notice, per the terms and conditions of their contract, that they wished to cease restaurant operations and we worked with them through the transition.”

The closure and timelines around the new restaurant opening up in the fall mean there will be no restaurant at the airport for what is expected to be a busy summer tourist season.

Asked about this concern and how it was being addressed, the department pointed out that the gift shop and vending machines at the terminal are still open, and “there are several other restaurant options in the vicinity of the airport.”

As for why and if the timeline could have been pushed up to accommodate this season, McDonald added the department was working within the timeline provided by the notice that Shanthi’s gave.

It did not specify when it was given that notice, despite the Star asking when it learned the family would be ending its lease.

The last time the restaurant area was significantly updated was when the terminal – without subsequent major additions – opened in 1985.

Meanwhile, according to statistics from the Department of Tourism and Culture, a seasonal snapshot from earlier this year shows air arrivals at the airport during the summer season (May to September) have been higher than those in the winter (October to April) for the last three years.

For the 2017-18 season, for example, there were 98,827 air arrivals compared to 91,679 during the winter at the airport.

There is also a difference in money coming into the territory during these seasons; that same 2017-18 period saw the winter bring in $64 million in retail sales, compared to $78 million for the summer.

Numbers from the Yukon Bureau of Statistics also show tourist activity picks up during the months of January and February from about 3,000 and 4,000 people, to peak season in the warmer months of July and August, when the number of visitors climbs into the six-figure range.

Comments (14)

Up 0 Down 0

Mick on May 8, 2019 at 7:28 pm

@Always Questions

Why does it matter how long I’ve been here? Are you one of those posers that think a couple winters makes you hardcore? Or the longer you’ve been here the higher authority you are...somehow.

For the record, on my dad’s side my ancestors came over the White Pass in 1898. My mom’s side has been here around 35,000 years since coming across Beringia. Let me guess, you came from Ontario in 2015.

What you may not realize is that Transport Canada has pretty stringent rules about what goes on in the aerodrome. Smoke from a food truck. Propane bottles. Parking snarls etc. Not gonna happen because you wanna scarf down a hotdog in the parking lot.

Up 1 Down 3

Always Questions on May 7, 2019 at 7:44 pm

@Mick
lol, put your glasses on and read my comment. I said TEMPORARY and how long have you been here? That is a HUGE parking lot. I also didn't take it to the Business Plan level, just looking for food at the airport during the busy summer season.
Also a Airport Chalet regular, always good.

Up 9 Down 1

Mick on May 7, 2019 at 3:16 pm

@Always Questions
A food truck huh? Just park it right inside the terminal I guess?
Think before bellying up to the keyboard. First off, there is no place to park a food truck and the food truck season is literally 90 days long.
There is a restaurant area already in the building. It's plumbed, has electrical and venting exhaust. It has a million dollar view.
Stop trying to re-invent the wheel.

Up 12 Down 1

My Opinion on May 6, 2019 at 9:12 pm

@Geoff @Nick

You guys clearly have no idea what it takes to run a business. One restaurant was barely making it.
You guys must work at the Government Eh?

Up 3 Down 6

Always Questions on May 6, 2019 at 7:47 pm

Why can't they permit/authorize for a temporary rotating food truck service?

Up 35 Down 11

jack on May 3, 2019 at 11:39 pm

Hoping there's a larger bar area!

Up 9 Down 14

nick on May 3, 2019 at 8:54 pm

I couldn't agree more with the previous comment regarding the arrangement of a food court type setting with a few different options. This would deliver a variety of food options and diversity the opportunities for multiple vendors to service the increasing airport patronage

Up 24 Down 0

Mick on May 3, 2019 at 1:12 pm

@Geoff
How would a 'foodcourt' survive there? 3 or 4 independent businesses that face 2 or 3 one hour rushes per day? There is barely enough traffic for a single business.

There is only a single kitchen onsite.

Up 14 Down 45

Harold M on May 3, 2019 at 7:39 am

WOW! Things sure have been improving under Liberal tutelage. I guess this would explain the Yukon's country leading Unemployment figure @4.1%
There was also an article on the CBC website about a week ago where out of 125 cities in Canada, Whitehorse was rated number 1 for starting a new business. Do a search for particulars. Others are tooting our horn.

Up 13 Down 22

Josey Wales on May 3, 2019 at 12:39 am

Great...I guess, just in time for another expectation...a new government!
Then those whom choose to rejoice, can go there and watch “hopefully”
a carbon tax crash and burn. In addition to a new age, exorcism really, take flight in governance.
Great point on the parking though.
Given the love of team red to tax us and crank up user fees, if the exorcism is unsuccessful....could be pay toilets with pay TP dispensers, goonie operated taps to wash up with and subsidized solar powered hand driers.

Up 19 Down 33

Geoff on May 2, 2019 at 7:16 pm

Wouldn't it make more sense to develop a "food court" type of service, like southern airports have? Try to get four to six outlets with a variety of themes and products, and the seating area is shared? I know the airport terminal is smaller than the Canada Games Centre, but a single restaurant seems outmoded.

Up 27 Down 1

Yo on May 2, 2019 at 6:52 pm

FREE parking for your first hour there!

Up 19 Down 10

J.E. on May 2, 2019 at 4:56 pm

I’m wondering if there will be a secure side to the restaurant now for patrons on the other side of security?

Up 48 Down 9

Buzz on May 2, 2019 at 3:05 pm

It might be worth exploring having them validate parking for people who just come into grab lunch or a quick bite.
It would widen their customer base to more than just travelers and those picking up/dropping people off.
Free parking over at the Chalet.

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