Cloud hangs over closures
Northern weather stations close their doors

by Cheryl Leschasin
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 02/97) - After 55 years of service, the Environment Canada weather stations in Yellowknife and Iqaluit have closed their doors for good.

The closures Monday -- due to government cutbacks -- mark the end of an era for weather stations.

Yellowknife and Iqaluit were the last of 43 regional weather offices in Canada to shut down. Most weather stations are now completely automated.

Weather station manager Brian Mottus said the government announced the closures in early 1995, after Environment Canada's budget was slashed by about 35 per cent.

"It was a political decision," said Mottus. "The government had to decide what service to sacrifice."

The closures translate into eight layoffs in Yellowknife, including popular voice of weather on local radio, Franco Didiodato.

Northerners will still be able to use their telephone to dial in for a weather recording, which is updated three times a day.

No detailed regional information will be available, however, marine recordings will be available in summer.

The Northern weather centre in Edmonton will provide the NWT with weather recordings, but many former weather station employees expressed concern over the cost-cutting measures.

"I think it stinks," said employee Al Denis.

"Alberta has two centres plus the Arctic centre. The Yukon has its own weather station with a smaller geographical size and smaller population."

Denis also expressed concern over whether the Arctic station in Edmonton will do an adequate job covering the immense NWT, when the staff don't even live here.