Because the Yukon Liberal Caucus recognizes how vital the George Black Ferry is to Dawson residents and visitors to the region, Minister of Highways and Public Works and MLA for Riverdale North Nils Clarke has directed his department to explore long-term options and solutions to ensure this important crossing point of the Yukon River remains accessible.
“Thanks to the dedicated crew and officials with Highways and Public Works, ferry service quality has been maintained at the same level of service as seen in the past,” said Minister Clarke. “The ferry currently operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and there have been no extended periods where the ferry has been out of the water this summer. While some Dawson residents may be noticing longer line ups as this year, this is largely in part due to the rebound for tourism following the COVID-19 pandemic,” the minister added.
During the off-season, the George Black Ferry undergoes extensive repairs to ensure normal operations for the next season. Before this season’s opening, the ferry’s primary engines were refurbished and extensive repairs were completed. During the season, regular ongoing ferry maintenance may cause occasional delays for passengers, but this work ensures that crews can avoid longer closures or unsafe operations.
“While a recent inspection report showed that the current ferry can operate for another decade at least, with proper maintenance, the Yukon Liberal Government feels that now is the time to begin working towards an option for the future,” said Minister Clarke.
Residents of Dawson City are encouraged to participate in the ongoing public consultation on the future of the river crossing. Dawson City residents received an invitation letter with instructions on how to participate in these consultations. The Yukon Government will release a “What We Heard” report once consultations are complete.
The George Black Ferry costs approximately $1.6 million to operate annually, which includes repairs and maintenance of the landing approaches. The Yukon Liberal Caucus notes that Currie Dixon and every member of the Yukon Party Caucus voted against funding this season’s operation of the ferry, as well as the long-term maintenance needed to ensure the ferry continues running throughout its lifespan.
“Before we make any long-term plans for the ferry, we want to hear from Dawson City residents. I encourage all Dawson City residents to participate in Highways and Public Works’ ongoing Dawson City Year-Round River-Crossing Survey and let us know how the Government of Yukon can best accommodate the needs of Dawson residents,” concluded Clarke.
- Travel time on the George Black Ferry is approximately ten minutes from one side of the river to the other.
- The ferry can haul approximately 143,000 lbs, is 83 feet long, and 17 feet wide.