Parks Canada has decided to close the winter road that connects Fort Chipewyan in Alberta with Fort Smith and other nearby communities.
Residents of Fort Chipewyan and nearby areas had been allowed to cross north of the Peace River, including Smith’s Landing First Nation and Mikisew Cree First Nation members living on reserve lands in that part of Alberta, to access essential services in Fort Smith.
They could do this without completing the mandatory self-isolation.
But the GNWT told Parks Canada those exemptions couldn’t continue once the winter road was in place.
“If the usual through-road were constructed to Fort Chipewyan, the GNWT has advised that the special exemptions, listed above, would end,” a statement from Parks Canada read. “After careful discussion with all affected community partners, Parks Canada made the decision to suspend the through winter road this year.”
The GNWT’s COVID-19 enforcement officers had been enforcing COVID-19 rules and travel restrictions at a traffic stop on the NWT/Alberta border.
The decision was made “following discussions with local leaders, community members and government representatives in the communities surrounding Wood Buffalo National Park.”
Fort Chipewyan residents will continue to have access to Fort McMurray, Alberta using a winter road constructed by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
Fort Chipewyan residents can access groceries, supplies and other essential services.
Parks Canada can open the Fort Smith-Fort Chipewyan winter road as an emergency supply line if necessary.