Infrastructure in the North

*For lines on key procurement projects, please refer to tab on Key Procurement Projects.

  • National Defence takes Northern sovereignty and security seriously and remains committed to defending Canadian interests here at home and across the Arctic.
  • That is why we are investing $38.6 billion over the next 20 years to modernize Canada’s contribution to NORAD, with key investments in the North to strengthen surveillance and presence, and bolster our ability to operate in the North.
  • We are also currently working on upgrading infrastructure at four forward operation locations in Canada’s North – Inuvik, Yellowknife, Iqaluit, and Goose Bay – as part of NORAD modernization and Northern basing initiative.
  • We are also moving forward with the procurement of fighter jets, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships, and the replacement of the CP-140 Auroras, which will help enhance our Arctic capabilities.
  • Our continued engagement with Indigenous, provincial, and territorial partners also enhances our capabilities and northern presence.

If pressed on the expired lease contract for the Inuvik Hangar Facilities:

  • National Defence maintains a number of assets in the North that support operational requirements and, where possible, benefit local communities.
  • We routinely assess and re-assess our needs in the North to ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces has the appropriate facilities to support Northern operations, while also considering value for Canadians.
  • We continue to explore the potential of the facility for military operations.

If pressed on delays for the Nanisivik Naval Facility:

  • Infrastructure work in the Arctic poses many challenges, including complex logistics.
  • Work is ongoing to complete the Nanisivik Naval Facility, which will operate as a docking and refueling facility to support the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships and other government vessels.
  • We are working to find solutions that could allow the Naval Facility to begin operations in 2025.

If pressed on the heating of the Nanisivik Naval Facility’s fuel tanks:

  • This facility is a strategic asset for Canada and will be used not only by Defence, but also by the Coast Guard.
  • Operating in the High Arctic for four to six weeks is a critical milestone towards operating for longer periods.
  • National Defence is working on a longer-term plan to lengthen the operating season once success and capabilities have been established with the current model.

If pressed on delays or additional costs for the Inuvik Airport Runway Extension Project:

  • As part of our efforts to enhance capabilities in the North, National Defence has committed $230 million for a runway extension at the Inuvik Airport.
  • The announced increase in the project’s cost is a result of delays from the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain issues, and rising material costs.
  • National Defence supports the project and recognizes its importance for the region and for the local communities.

Key Facts

  • Budget 2022: Allocates $6.1B over five years, with $1.3B in remaining amortization to increase defence capabilities, improve continental defence, and support commitments to our allies.
  • Budget 2021: Allocates an initial $252.2M over five years, with $160M in remaining amortization, starting in 2021-22, to lay the groundwork for continental defence and NORAD modernization.


National Defence Initiatives to Enhance the CAF’s Ability to Operate in the North

  • Participating in space-based global SAR capabilities through its contributions to the Medium Earth Orbit SAR system. National Defence is also building two SAR ground terminals in Canada and is providing SAR repeaters on a satellite system, greatly increasing the range in which emergency beacons can be detected.
  • Enhancing Canada’s surveillance of northern approaches and northern presence through investments in Over-the-Horizon Radar, space-based surveillance and communications capabilities, improvements to northern basing, and support capabilities that will extend the reach of the CAF as part of NORAD modernization.

Nanisivik Naval Facility

  • In 2007, the Government announced its plan to convert the deep-water port at Nanisivik to a logistics hub, which will operate as a docking and refueling facility for the Royal Canadian Navy and other government vessels and serve to enhance the Navy’s presence in the North.
    • The construction of the Nanisivik Naval Facility in Nunavut is nearing completion. The primary role of the facility will be to refuel the Royal Canadian Navy’s Arctic and Offshore Patrol ships during the navigable season, while also continuing to provide the Canadian Coast Guard with refueling support and storage capacity for re-supply missions.
  • The Auditor General’s report on Arctic Waters Surveillance noted that the Nanisivik Naval Facility (NNF) would not be equipped with heated fuel tanks, limiting its period of operation to approximately 4 weeks per year.
    • As an Arctic facility, the operational year is usually from early August to as late as October, depending on ice-coverage and temperatures. As long as the waters are navigable and the facility is accessible, the site will be open to ships. There are a number of factors which contribute to the length of the facilities’ operating season.
    • The RCN have agreed with the Government of Nunavut to not break ice near the facility in order to protect community access to frozen waters and protect wildlife, therefore access is restricted to the RCN’s operational season, which is typically between four and six weeks.
    • As well, the NNF requires fuel to be shipped in at the start of the season and removed at the end of the season. The fuel barge cannot typically access NNF until early August because of ice coverage. Depending on the temperatures in late September, fuel may start to thicken as the fuel tanks and lines are not heated, limiting the Navy’s ability to use the fuel. At that point the fuel must be removed from the tanks.

Inuvik Airport Runway Extension Project

  • Owned by the Government of the Northwest Territories, Inuvik’s Mike Zubko Airport hosts civilian aircraft and acts as a Forward Operating Location for the Royal Canadian Air Force and NORAD. As part of its role as a Forward Operating Location, the airport’s 6,000-foot runway is primarily used for CF-18 operations supporting Canadian sovereignty in the North and NORAD operations and exercises.
  • Upgrades to the Inuvik runway are primarily focused on improving the airfield’s suitability to operate larger and heavier aircraft, which is an important enhancement to NORAD and the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) ability to operate in the North and the High Arctic. This work is vital to ensuring the Canadian Armed Forces continue to have the capability to meet emerging security challenges across the North and the High Arctic, and aligns with Minister Anand’s June 2022 announcement of Canada’s plan to modernize its NORAD capabilities.
  • The project was initially expected to cost up to $150 million. Following third-party reviews, the revised project cost is estimated at $230 million due to delays from the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain issues, and rising material costs.

NORAD Modernization and Northern Basing Infrastructure

  • The department is currently working on upgrading CAF infrastructure at four Forward Operating Locations (FOL) in Canada’s North - Inuvik, Yellowknife, Iqaluit, and Goose Bay - as part of the NORAD modernization/Northern Basing initiative.
  • Upgrades will include runway modifications, hangars, operations facilities, accommodations, telecommunication facilities, and airfield recapitalization.

Page details

Date modified: