No emergency backup generator at Faro's airport has worker demanding a solution

A shot of the Faro airport. (Submitted by Michel Dupont - image credit)
A shot of the Faro airport. (Submitted by Michel Dupont - image credit)

Faro's airport operator Michel Dupont is calling on the Yukon Government to fix or replace the emergency backup generator at the town's airport.

Dupont said the airport has been operating without any backup power for close to a year now.

According to Dupont, the generator was purchased after the new airport terminal was built in 2013. The new build did not include a new generator, so they tried using the one they originally had from the old building.

"We had some close calls, where the equipment that was on a backup battery inside of the office quite after 20 minutes in a power outage. We were left with nothing," Dupont said.

Dupont said he raised his concerns to the Town of Faro and the Ross River Dena Council. Not long after that, a new generator was delivered to the airport.

"The generator is brand new," Dupont said." It's at least a $250,000 piece of equipment."

But last winter, the generator stopped working.

Submitted by Michel Dupont
Submitted by Michel Dupont

Dupont said he contacted the government's Highways and Public Works department to have someone service the generator. He said the department responded by occasionally dropping off oil and parts for it, a solution he said hasn't solved anything.

"I guess they're just sending parts once in a while to keep my mouth shut," he said. "They send a crew who's already on the road so they just come by and drop a couple cans of oil."

A statement from Yukon's Department of Highways and Public Works said the government is aware that the backup generator is out of service.

The department said the proper parts to fix the generator have been received and it's scheduled for service sometime next week.

Long wait could have been dangerous, says operator

Dupont said it wasn't much of a concern during the summer as it's daylight for most of the days and evenings. However, as it gets darker, it's essential to have this in the airport's back pocket.

"When the power goes off here, I cannot do the weather report," Dupont said. "Then the radios go and I have no lights. None whatsoever. If you want to picture Faro's airport in the dark in a power outage, it's a black picture."

Dupont said there is also a safety concern when it comes to not having a functioning emergency generator.

"We could be waiting here for an aircraft to pick up a patient in the middle of the night and then we have a power outage," he said. "We don't know how long it's going to last ... So the aircraft isn't going to just be around here until the power comes back. It's going right back to Whitehorse."

He said the neighbouring community of Ross River also relies on Faro's airport for medevacs.

The Department of Highway and Public Works said landing strips have to be lit up in order for medevacs to land at night. If that can't happen, EMS might have to delay the flight or land elsewhere.

"As well, if the Faro Aerodrome is not available for any reason, the alternate medevac site is Ross River," the department noted.

In 2021, the Yukon Government signed the Public Airports Act Regulation, which regulates how public airports throughout the territory are managed. It also includes details about land management and use, future development, land leases, licences and permits, and fees.

Dupont said he understands that bigger airports in the Yukon get priority when it comes to government funding and attention, but he said this is something that needs to be addressed.

He said having a backup power source could prevent an emergency from getting worse.

'The name of it says it all. It's an emergency backup generator,' said Dupont. "I don't need to explain more.

"The town office has a generator. It's not going to save any lives over there but they have one. They have one at the nursing station. They have one at the rec centre. It's not [Yukon Government], mind you, but if the town can get their act together, why can't [the Yukon Government]?"