The Waskaganish airport has been closed since September 15 and is set to reopen again on October 16, if all goes well. It is undergoing a range of improvements, such as refilling the gravel runway, taxiway and apron, restoring the access road to the airport and replacing the signs. The terminal building is also being repaired as strong winds this summer ripped off part of the sheet metal roofing.
While there had been hope from the Band Council to realign it to a north/south direction to avoid the strong north westerly winds, Transport Canada determined there was not enough money to fund the work. Transport Canada also stated that the runway was originally aligned east/west, but didn’t acknowledge having received any complaints about strong north winds.
The closure has been a bit of an inconvenience, but there have been no complaints. The Cree Health Board has been transporting those in need of medical attention to Matagami and Val d’Or by ambulance, with a Medivac helicopter on stand-by should it be needed.
Chief Robert Weitsche said that it will be an improvement and that work has progressed faster than originally anticipated as it had been slated to be closed for six weeks. The engineers from Transport Canada and Public Works will be heading up there this week to check on the work, making sure it is all up to the specifications and will then announce the reopening.