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WHITEHORSE – During the spring sitting, the Yukon’s tourism minister assured operators after two years of closure, the Little Gold-Poker Creek border crossing connecting Canada and the U.S. via the Top of the World Highway would be “open as normal” for the summer.
Businesses – especially those in the Klondike – planned accordingly.
However, last week, Canadian and U.S. border officials said the crossing would not open until June 1, and would close on September 1. Normally, seasonal operations run from May 15 to September 15. The hours of operation were also reduced; with a new closing time of 6 p.m. instead of 8 p.m.
The Minister indicated in the Legislative Assembly as late as April 28 the border would reopen as usual. He said, “Concerning Little Gold, we are aware that it will open as normal and that it will be serviced, and I think that we have — through our border working group — continued to ensure that.”
This announcement is already affecting tourism operators in Dawson. They say they have experienced a number of cancellations.
“On behalf of tourism operators, the Yukon Party Official Opposition asked about this important border crossing a number of times during the spring sitting,” said Tourism Critic Geraldine Van Bibber. “Each time the Minister answered the border would be back operating at pre-pandemic levels. To hear news of reduced operations at the border when the Minister indicated it was all systems go is very disappointing.”
The Minister needs to explain why and how he provided the inaccurate and unreliable information that is now affecting Yukon tourism operators. He also needs to confirm if this will be the new schedule in future years.
This follows the cancellation of the White Pass & Yukon Route trips to the Yukon this summer due to restrictions and uncertainty around wait times – an announcement that came just days after the Minister told the Legislature that border issues had been resolved.