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Thoughts on the proposed International Highway, October 1933

Highlights of History from The Whitehorse Star

Northern Highways

The Whitehorse Star - Friday, October 6, 1933

George Black declares International
Highway of no real value here.

Reprinted from the Dawson News.

    "There is a matter I would like to refer to briefly. . and that is the proposed extension of the Pacific Highway through British Columbia and Yukon. I am told it has been said I am opposed to the project. I am not opposed to it, but I am opposed to jumping into any important undertaking entailing the expenditure of large sums of the taxpayer's money without looking the facts and conditions squarely in the face.

    "As a Yukoner, I say, if the heavily burdened taxpayers of Canada are willing to dig down farther and produce the money not only to build but to maintain the road, I am all for it. If we people of Yukon had to finance it ourselves and pay for its upkeep it would never be built.

    "A fairly careful estimate of the cost of building a dirt road north through British Columbia to the southern boundary of Yukon is $12,000,000. Where would British Columbia get the money? Do you think the people of British Columbia want to put it up? British Columbia is one of the four western provinces which the Dominion government is carrying.

    "An estimate of the cost of building through Yukon is $4,000,000. Have we got it? Shall we tax ourselves for it? I don't hear any loud cheers at that suggestion. There is no possibility of the Dominion govemment putting $16,000,000 in the undertaking at present.

    "If we are honest we can't say the road is badly needed. There is no likelihood of the road opening up any mineral development in Yukon. All through northern British Columbia the road would have to negotiate high mountain passes. Very large sums of money would be required each year to open it up, repair damage done by the winter's snow and run-off each spring. How long would it be open each year? Possibly three months. Not all of June. The snow on the passes would be too deep. Bridges on these mountain streams would need constant replacement. July, August and part of September is about all we could hope for. How many would travel it? At the risk of being called a pessimist I cannot picture any great concourses of millionaires heading north with their limousines, scattering their money to Yukoners along the way. More likely a thin line of tin lizzies with camp equipment, people hanging onto their nickels and dimes, and camping by the roadside.

    "No great crowds of people would take a chance on a trip like that unless they had a much better road than $16,000,000 could build over such an extent of country. If there was a reasonable chance of getting a return on the money or of bringing about a great development by such expenditure, the govemment might consider it but they can't be stampeded by any ballyhoo from Seattle, Fairbanks, or Dawson.

    "Yukon holds her population on her mineral production and nothing else. When that ceases it is not likely that many people will continue to make their homes here, but I am hoping, as we all do, that new discoveries will be made.

    "...The mines are all we have to depend on and to which we must look to support us in the future as they have in the past."