Department of National Defence to increase funding contribution for Inuvik Airport runway upgrades

News release

January 19, 2023 – Inuvik, Northwest Territories – Department of National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

Today, the Member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories, Michael V. McLeod, announced on behalf of the Minister of National Defence, Anita Anand, that the Department of  National Defence will be increasing its investment in the Inuvik Airport runway by $80 million, for a total investment of $230 million. Funding will be provided to the Government of the Northwest Territories and will be used to complete the remaining work required to extend and modernize the Inuvik Airport’s 6,000-foot main runway.

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 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 Arctic, and aligns with Minister Anand’s June 2022 announcement of Canada’s plan to modernize its NORAD capabilities.  As a central transportation hub in the Western Arctic and a growing community, Inuvik is a key location to deliver on our goals in the Arctic while creating opportunities for Indigenous and Northern communities. Construction on the runway upgrades is expected to be completed in 2027.

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring Canadian Armed Forces personnel have the Northern infrastructure they require to effectively train and perform their duties. Funding for this project will also generate well-paying jobs and economic opportunities for residents of the Beaufort Delta region during construction.


“It is critical that we continue to invest in defence infrastructure upgrades in the North. The Arctic faces unique safety and security concerns because of climate change, and it is our responsibility to provide our military personnel with the infrastructure they require to be well-prepared to defend the North. I am pleased to continue working with the Government of the Northwest Territories on these upgrades, which are a benefit to both DND/CAF and the local travellers that use this airport.

The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence

“Not only does funding projects like the Inuvik runway extension ensure our personnel are well-prepared to respond to any challenges we may face, it also creates economic opportunities in the region. This increased contribution will continue to benefit the regional economy over the next several years.”

Michael V. McLeod, Member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories

“Indigenous and northern communities are key partners in Canadian security and for the Canadian Armed Forces; this is especially true across the North and Arctic. Infrastructure projects like the Inuvik Airport runway upgrades are a perfect example of how partnerships with local and Indigenous communities in national security makes Canada safer and more prosperous. Investments of this size in the North and Arctic serve more than just security and defence needs; they also keep people connected, provide key services and maintain critical supply chains, and help maintain our Arctic sovereignty.”                                                                                        

The Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs

“Infrastructure investments in Northern communities create economic growth and improve the lives of Northerners. This additional investment in Inuvik’s airport builds on our ongoing partnership with the Government of the Northwest Territories to bolster Arctic sovereignty and build the modern infrastructure the region needs.”

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities

Like many capital projects in the Northwest Territories and across the country, the Inuvik runway extension has been impacted by inflation and market escalations that have increased project costs beyond the original budget. This funding increase will allow the Government of the Northwest Territories to not only support the Beaufort Delta region in the years ahead but will enable us to provide more opportunities for local businesses throughout construction.

Diane Archie, Minister of Infrastructure, Government of the Northwest Territories

Quick facts

  • Owned by the Government of the Northwest Territories, Inuvik’s Mike Zubko Airport hosts civilian aircraft and acts as a Forward Operating Base for the Royal Canadian Air Force and NORAD. 

  • The project will see the existing runway extended by 3,000 feet, while modernizing its lighting, navigational systems, and military aircraft arrestor system. 

  • The prime contractor is an Indigenous joint venture and an example of how Indigenous industry supports the DND mission in the North.

  • The project was initially expected to cost up to $150 million. Following third-party reviews, the revised project cost is now estimated at $230 million due to delays from the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain issues, and rising material costs.

  • As part of its role as a Forward Operating Base, 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.  

  • This project is being funded through DND’s Capital Assistance Program, which funds shared-used capital projects for military infrastructure that is shared by the federal government and other levels of government.

Associated links


Daniel Minden
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of National Defence
Phone: 613-996-3100

Media Relations
Department of National Defence
Phone: 613-904-3333

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