Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit June 23, 2010 - 3:40 pm

A tantalizing preview of more unaffordable Iqaluit ports

“We’re going to have to find the money somehow.”

CHRIS WINDEYER

It’s the dream that never dies, but never comes to life either.

But the Government of Nunavut publicly kicked off the push to build a deep sea port for Iqaluit June 21, with a pair of open houses to show off some proposed designs for the project.

There five possible designs for the port, all located along the western side of Koojesee Inlet.

The preferred option, said consultant Harald Kullmann, is at South Polaris Reef, halfway between the old causeway and Innuit Head. Kullmann said the site offers the best access for ships and requires less blasting and a shorter access road.

With an estimated $65-million price tag, so-called option four is also less expensive than the others, which go as high as $73 million, Kullman said.

The proposal calls for a floating dock as well as a landing ramp for boats and barges, plus space for handling cargo. It would connect to the existing road that now ends at the causeway.

But if the GN can’t find $65 million, there’s also option six, which Kullman said “is basically option four built in two stages.”

The large floating dock, which alone costs $35 million, could be built later, and a basic landing area, at a cost of $30 million would have to suffice.

That question of money hung over the sparsely-attended mid-afternoon session at Iqaluit’s parish hall.

John Hussey, Iqaluit’s chief administrative officer, said the city can’t afford to pay for it.

Peter Taptuna, Nunavut’s Minister of Economic Development and Transportation, said in March the GN can’t either and would be looking for federal funding to make the port happen.

“We don’t really have a budget for the cost,” admitted Methusalah Kunuk, the assistant deputy minister of transportation. “We’re going to have to find the money somehow.”

Adding to the cost will be the final price tag of small craft harbour improvements, which could cost anywhere from $3 million to $21 million.

A floating dock for hunters and fishers at the old causeway would cost $15 million, while a similar extension to the breakwater would cost $21 million.

A smaller package of improvements to the breakwater, consisting of launch ramps, some dredging and mooring improvements, would cost $3 million.

Hussey said the small craft harbour has to be part of any port project. “It has to be done right,” he said.

Speaking through an interpreter, hunter Jayko Shaimaiyuk said he prefers option four, to make it easier for sealift ships to unload their cargo.

Shaimaiyuk also said the causeway has to be improved, because now boats at high tend often end up smashing into one another.

Another man at the meeting said he was concerned about the impact on fish stocks of blasting during construction, but Shaimaiyuk said he doubted there would be much impact on fish.

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