Liberals pressed on status of Dempster fibre optic line following broadband disturbance

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Highways and Public Works Minister Nils Clarke says construction of the Dempster fibre optic line will start this year. Pictured here is a temporary emergency fibre optic cable along Highway 3 in the N.W.T.  (Kate Kyle/CBC - image credit)
Highways and Public Works Minister Nils Clarke says construction of the Dempster fibre optic line will start this year. Pictured here is a temporary emergency fibre optic cable along Highway 3 in the N.W.T. (Kate Kyle/CBC - image credit)

The telecommunications disturbance that impacted Yukon this week demonstrates the urgent need for the Dempster fibre optic line to be built, according to Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers.

"Unfortunately, this project by the Liberals has been mired in unnecessary delays," he said during question period Thursday, adding the need for a broadband cable that would span Yukon and N.W.T. has been batted around for years.

Internet, phone and television services were downed across the North after a damaged fibre cable in northern British Columbia spurred a widespread disruption that lasted well into the evening Wednesday. Road construction near Fort Nelson, B.C., may have caused the outage, according to a spokesperson with Northwestel.

That cable, which has been cut before, is the only broadband link Yukon has to the rest of Canada.

Highways and Public Works Minister Nils Clarke said the government has the project well in-hand, adding work on the new fibre line will occur within "the month or so."

"The project will benefit communities in Yukon and N.W.T. by providing a backup telecommunication line in the event of a service disruption such as the disruption that occurred yesterday," he said. "We're doing this properly."

Clarke said construction will be completed in 2024.

On May 7, ROHL Global Networks, in partnership with Dagoo Services, was awarded the construction of the Dempster fibre line, which will span 800 km from Dawson City, Yukon, to Inuvik, N.W.T.

Clarke said the contract is worth $67 million.

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