A military airstrip upgrade in northern Canada will cost 53% more than promised because materials rose in price and Covid-19 caused delays, according to the defence minister’s announcement last Thursday.

Minister of National Defence Anita Anand said extending and modernizing an airstrip in Inuvik, Northwest Territories will cost $80 million more than the original $150 million because prices have risen, supply chains have faltered and Covid-19 has set the project back.

The price increase won’t stop her, she said, from addressing a new source of concern in northern Canada.

“The Arctic faces unique safety […] concerns because of climate change,” said Anand. “It is our responsibility to provide our military personnel with the infrastructure they require to be well-prepared to defend the North.”

Officials said the purpose of the investment at the Inuvik Airport is to equip the runway for larger, heavier aircraft. Canada will soon direct new planes to the airport as the country modernizes its air-force presence in the arctic.

In order to prepare for new planes, the Canadian government announced it would extend the airport’s 6,000 foot runway by 3,000 feet, and modernize the airport’s navigation technology, lighting and landing gear.

The project was first announced in 2019. Officials estimate the upgrades will be complete in 2027.