Federal gov’t under pressure to buy hangar in Inuvik, N.W.T., owner says

The 21,000-square-foot hangar facility at the airport in Inuvik, N.W.T., was put up for sale last year by International Logistical Support (ILS). According to the company president, the federal government — which leased the facility for 16 years before cancelling the contract in 2021 — is having the hangar appraised next week. (International Logistical Support)

The owner of a large airplane hangar in Canada’s Arctic says the federal government may be looking to buy the strategic facility — but only since coming under pressure from the U.S. 

“We’ve gone all these months, basically two years, with not a word — and now all of a sudden there’s words,” said Les Klapatiuk, whose company, International Logistical Support (ILS), owns the 21,000-square-foot hangar facility at the airport in Inuvik, N.W.T.

“They haven’t fully expressed an interest in purchasing it, but it, you know, it seems to be pointing in that direction.”

According to a story in The Globe and Mail on Tuesday, the Department of Public Works and Government Services contacted Klapatiuk late last month to say it would like to conduct an appraisal of the hangar. Klapatiuk confirmed to CBC News that’s scheduled to happen on April 10.

The Globe and Mail reported information from an unnamed Canadian government official, who told them the U.S. raised concerns with Ottawa about a Chinese buyer acquiring the hangar.

ILS first put the facility up for sale a little over a year ago, for $19.5 million. The hangar — advertised as the only facility in the Western Arctic capable of hangaring C-130 air-to-air refuellers — had long been leased by the Department of National Defence (DND) but the department cancelled the lease in 2021. Klapatiuk doesn’t know why.

“We had been on a contract with the RCAF [Royal Canadian Air Force] in support of NORAD for 16 years,” Klapatiuk said.

“So I kind of waited to determine what they were going to do, and then I just put it up for sale because I can’t sit and just wait for nothing … these buildings are not cheap to run.”

Les Klapatiuk, president of ILS, outside the green hangar in Inuvik. ‘The question I think everybody was asking is, why would DND get rid of, or Canadian Armed Forces get rid of, a strategic asset?’ Klapatiuk said. (International Logistical Support)

According to Klapatiuk, the ad — which describes the facility as a “one-of-a-kind opportunity for Government and Defense applications, Oil and Gas or a resource development group” — was soon getting an “amazing” number of hits, but not from Canada.

“We were getting hits out of China — 25, 28 per cent of our hits were right out of China — and we were getting hits out of St. Petersburg, Russia, 100, 110 a day,” Klapatiuk said.

“The question I think everybody was asking is, why would DND get rid of, or Canadian Armed Forces get rid of, a strategic asset?”

‘Waited and begged and pleaded for Canada to step up’

In November, Klapatiuk testified before the Senate standing committee on national security, defence and veterans affairs about the facility, which is commonly referred to as the “green hangar.”

He argued that the hangar is a vital asset for NORAD and decried the federal government’s apparent lack of interest. Asked about the future of the facility, Klapatiuk blasted the government for removing “any capability for Canada in the Arctic.”

“If you’re talking about contract negotiations, there are none. We have waited and begged and pleaded for Canada to step up in our common defence with the United States. Nobody has done anything. We have not been contacted by anyone,” he told the committee.

A week later, before a House of Commons standing committee on national defence, military officials described the green hangar as useful, but “not essential” for Canada’s NORAD commitments or search and rescue operations.

A Canadian Forces Hercules C-130 takes off from Inuvik’s airport in 2017 on a search and rescue mission. (David Thurton/CBC)

“That hangar used to be useful for us to forward-deploy our Hercules tactical tanker. It was used for no other reason,” said Maj.-Gen. Iain Huddleston, commander of Canadian NORAD region for the Armed Forces.

“We no longer use the Hercules tactical tanker to support that mission. Therefore, we do not need the green hangar in order to support NORAD operations.”

Still, Klapatiuk said U.S. NORAD officials were paying attention and came to Inuvik to eye up the facility. He believes that put pressure on the Canadian government to respond and reconsider.

Klapatiuk says he also took the facility off the market last year, after learning that any potential sale would be subject to a security review.

Then in February, Canada was suddenly responding to a series of unidentified objects spotted over North America — and the green hangar was again proving useful to the DND, Klapatiuk said.

“I was contacted immediately for hangarage,” Klapatiuk said.

“They said they have no need for any hangarage in the Arctic, but as soon as they have a situation where they need hangarage, they have nothing so they have to call me.”

But in an emailed statement to CBC News on Tuesday, the DND reiterated what officials told the House of Commons committee last fall.

“We assess the hangar as a useful, but not essential, facility for military operations. Therefore, we continue to explore its potential,” the statement reads.

“We are looking carefully at what infrastructure will be required to support military requirements at Inuvik and other Northern sites.”


According to Rob Huebert, an associate professor at the University of Calgary who specializes in Arctic security issues, the green hangar in Inuvik shows that Canada is for some reason choosing to ignore real threats to national security and sovereignty.

He says he was “flabbergasted” to hear military officials testify last year that the hangar was not essential.

Rob Huebert is an associate professor in the department of political science at the University of Calgary. He says Canada needs defence infrastructure in the Arctic. ‘We need to do a better job of of surveillance and enforcement,’ he said. (Dave Brown/University of Calgary)

“We need to do a better job of of surveillance and enforcement. And in order to do it, we need to have the existing infrastructure that we have — because we’re not going to build it all from scratch,” he said.

“I just don’t know where this assessment is coming from, saying that we don’t need hangar capability in Inuvik.”

Huebert questions why the federal government even allowed the facility to ever go up for sale, considering its strategic location in the Arctic.

“Instead of Canada recognizing that we needed to do this as a sovereign nation for the protection of our own security, it seems that it is only through American pressure that this government has finally decided that it needs to ensure that the Chinese are not setting up base where we will be operating some of our most advanced weapon systems.”

With files from Meaghan Brackenbury and Julie Plourde

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Russia, China could challenge Canada’s ‘tenuous hold’ in Arctic, says top soldier, CBC News

FinlandRussian cyber attacks, espionage pose growing threat to Finnish national security, Yle news

Greenland: Growing focus on Arctic puts Greenland at higher risk of cyber attacks: assessment, Eye on the Arctic

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

Norway: As NATO flotilla exercises along North Norwegian coast, Russian vessels lure in nearby waters, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Moscow lowers ambitions in nuclear icebreaker program, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Swedish armed forces ready and waiting to join NATO as Finland becomes member, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. nominates Alaskan as first Arctic ambassador, Eye on the Arctic

CBC News

For more news from Canada visit CBC News.

One thought on “Federal gov’t under pressure to buy hangar in Inuvik, N.W.T., owner says

  • Monday, April 17, 2023 at 12:52

    I will buy the hangar. But not for 19.5 m

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