COVID-19 blamed as work on Canadian Arctic military port first promised in 2007 sees new delay

Then-prime minister Stephen Harper looks down the shoreline in the Arctic port of Nanisivik, Nunavut, in August 2007. Harper first announced plans to build the Nanisivik deep-water port, along with up to eight armed Arctic patrol vessels, in 2007. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)
The construction of a new military refuelling station in the Arctic is facing yet another delay more than 13 years after it was first promised by the federal government.

Stephen Harper, when he was prime minister, first announced plans to build the Nanisivik deep-water port in Nunavut, along with up to eight armed Arctic patrol vessels, in 2007.

The long-standing expectation was that the port, located on Baffin Island about 20 kilometres from Arctic Bay, would be ready when the first of those ships was finally delivered to the Royal Canadian Navy.

Yet while the first Arctic patrol vessel was handed over to the navy on Friday after numerous delays and cost overruns, the Department of National Defence says the Nanisivik facility won’t be ready until 2022.

Defence Department spokesperson Jessica Lamirande blamed travel difficulties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic for the latest delay, which follows numerous environmental and structural problems over the years.

The port was originally supposed to include an airstrip and be staffed year-round, but both plans were dropped after the project’s $116 million budget was found to have more than doubled to $258 million in 2013.

Related stories from around the North

Canada: Canadian navy receives its first new Arctic and offshore patrol ship, Radio Canada International

Denmark: Pompeo to talk Arctic at upcoming meeting with Danish Foreign Minister, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Finland joins other Nordic countries in virtual tourism due to pandemic, Yle News

Iceland: Nordics should aim for common approach to China’s Arctic involvement says report, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Norway strengthens its Arctic military in new defense plan as security concerns grow in the region, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Two Chinese rigs prepare for drilling in Russian Arctic waters, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sweden’s FM calls for more EU involvement in Arctic as country hosts EU Arctic Forum, Radio Sweden

United States: Trump advances new icebreaker plan, Alaska Public Media

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