Government of Canada announce over $45M to protect Whitehorse Escarpment and Robert Service Way

L to R: Minister Harjit Sajjan, TKC Chief Amanda Leas, KDFN acting Chief Charles Chief, Whitehorse Mayor Laura Cabott, Yukon Minister of Community Services Richard Mostyn, Yukon MP Brendan Hanley (Photo: S. Bonell)

Funding announcement comes just days after the first landslide of 2024.

The Government of Canada has announced over $45 million in funding through the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund to protect and stabilize the Whitehorse escarpment against further erosion.

At a media conference held at the base of the escarpment on Monday, President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness Harjit Sajjan said that the project will both protect the environment and prevent future landslides.

“Now, this funding will support the realignment of Robert Service Way and the Millenium Trail further away from the face of the bluff,” said Sajjan. “The slope will also be regraded, and debris will be removed, and the greenery and plants will be replanted in the bluff to prevent erosion.”

“[By] protecting this main route and the bluff that the airport is on, we are protecting the environment and maintaining access to the Millenium Trail. We’re also reducing the potential for future road closures due to landslides and ensuring that people have access to the services that they need when they need it.”

Whitehorse Mayor Laura Cabott joined Minister Sajjan at the announcement on Monday. She said that a similar situation in other Canadian cities would be a massive undertaking, but for the City of Whitehorse, it’s even bigger.

“Today’s announcement really is huge for the City of Whitehorse,” said Cabott. “It is the start of the largest infrastructure project that we have ever undertaken.”

“This is now a major focus for the city. Detailed work design will now get underway. We’ll start to move into [a request for proposal]. We’ll start to understand a little bit more with the design work, and over time, we will be able to build a permanent solution behind us,” said Cabott gesturing to the escarpment.

In April of 2022, a large landslide closed Robert Service Way for eight weeks, forcing the majority of traffic in and out of downtown Whitehorse to Two Mile Hill. Last year, the road was closed three times due to similar slides.

This funding announcement comes just days after the first landslide on the escarpment this year. While the slide was small and Robert Service Way remains open, city officials encourage caution to those travelling along the escarpment.

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