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Wekweètì winter road opens for a short season

The community government office in Wekweètì. The winter road to the community is now open for some vehicles.  (Kate Kyle/CBC - image credit)
The community government office in Wekweètì. The winter road to the community is now open for some vehicles. (Kate Kyle/CBC - image credit)

The Wekweètì winter road is now open, with some caveats.

The road opened at approximately 10 p.m. on Thursday, about two weeks later than the 10-year average opening date of March 8.

But for now, it is only open for vehicles with four-wheel drive and high clearance that weigh under 10,000 kg.

The Wekweètì winter road is an important corridor to bring needed supplies, such as fuel, dry goods, and building materials, into the 150-odd person community. Outside of the short winter road season, Wekweètì is only accessible by air.

Gary Brennan is an assistant deputy minister with the N.W.T. Department of Infrastructure.

In an interview on CBC's Trail's End on Friday, he said the department is hoping to get the road ready for smaller passenger vehicles to travel safely sometime early next week.

"In the last week or two of the opening it'll be more heavy traffic bringing fuel in, and you know, construction materials, dry goods, groceries, all those things that are going on those larger trucks."

The average closing date for the road over the last 10 years is April 15, though Brennan said it is hard to predict exactly what the closing date might be this year.

"We are experiencing challenges with our changing climate," Brennan said.

"Twenty years ago is not really applicable anymore … Sometimes we have a really cold winter or a really warm fall. We have to adapt every single year."

He cautioned anyone travelling on the 243 kilometre-long road to be prepared for rough or slippery conditions. He also recommended that anyone driving on the Wekweètì winter road bring emergency supplies, including extra fuel, water, and food, in case of possible delays or stoppages.