Nunatsiaq Online
LETTERS: Nunavut August 21, 2013 - 4:13 pm

A plan for an Iqaluit dock

“The dock that I propose would enable larger ships to tie up at all tides”

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Sealift barges unload cargo from the vessels Anna Desgagnés and the Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping vessel Umiaviut at high tide under clear sunny skies in Iqaluit on Aug. 18. The two vessels are visible on the horizon of Koojessee Inlet, at right. A Woodward tanker vessel was also anchored in the inlet, unloading fuel on the busy shipping weekend. (PHOTO BY PETER VARGA)
Sealift barges unload cargo from the vessels Anna Desgagnés and the Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping vessel Umiaviut at high tide under clear sunny skies in Iqaluit on Aug. 18. The two vessels are visible on the horizon of Koojessee Inlet, at right. A Woodward tanker vessel was also anchored in the inlet, unloading fuel on the busy shipping weekend. (PHOTO BY PETER VARGA)
The Iqaluit causeway, which was built by the United States Air Force to unload supplies, as it looked in the 1960s. However, the letter-writer does not believe that restoring the causeway is a good solution for fixing Iqaluit's current lack of docking facilities for ships. (PHOTO COURTESY OF BRYAN PEARSON)
The Iqaluit causeway, which was built by the United States Air Force to unload supplies, as it looked in the 1960s. However, the letter-writer does not believe that restoring the causeway is a good solution for fixing Iqaluit's current lack of docking facilities for ships. (PHOTO COURTESY OF BRYAN PEARSON)
In a photo from the 1960s, the letter-writer, Bryan Pearson, poses with a friend at the old Iqaluit causeway. (PHOTO COURTESY OF BRYAN PEARSON)
In a photo from the 1960s, the letter-writer, Bryan Pearson, poses with a friend at the old Iqaluit causeway. (PHOTO COURTESY OF BRYAN PEARSON)

There has been a lot of talk over the years about a dock. 

Iqaluit needs a dock. Martin Frobisher was heard to say “how come there’s no dock here” — and that was back in 1576.

The USAF, in order to unload supplies for the wonderful airport we have acquired at the expense of the American taxpayer, created what has come to be known as The Causeway.

That was a great device in its day, 50 years ago, but times have changed. Iqaluit needs a dock.

Winston Churchill, during the Second World War, invented the Mulberry dock. This was used for the invasion of Europe. They were a series of concrete docks, built in the U.K. and towed by tugs across to the beaches of Normandy. These docks allowed the allies to unload millions of tons of equipment necessary to complete and win the war.

During the 1970s, a lead-zine mine was opened on Little Cornwallis Island. In a brilliant move, a complete mining plant and dock were manufactured in southern Canada, towed all the way north, placed on site, then towed back at the end of a long and happy mining lifespan.

I propose that such a plan be implemented for a dock, not only for Iqaluit, but for all the communities that depend on the annual re-supply by ship for their basic fuel and other cargo.

Iqaluit is a special case, because the tides here are among the highest in the world. Smaller communities don’t have the same problem. However, they all suffer from time to time from the slow, unpredictable shipping season, waiting for the tide, waiting for the beach to clear, and so on.

We need a simple concrete dock with all the necessary equipment in place, beached in the best location.

A simple road or ramp to access the dock can be built using all local material and equipment. Some communities over the years have had to terminate their operations and go without a sealift due to heavy ice.

In happened in Iqaluit once, when all the ice was blown back. Offloading the ships was impossible. The vessels had to return to Montreal. The so-called sealift was flown in on cargo jets some months later.

The cost was staggering. Fuel, a vital need, was not delivered that year.

Iqaluit was singled out, some years ago during my term as mayor, to have a dock built at Inuit Head. That is the spot where the oil tankers discharge their products.

It happens to be a deep basin in the seabed. Huge tankers with deep draught can enter the area at high tide without too many problems.

It was in that are that the federal Department of Transport planned this sea port. Diamond drilling was performed through the sea ice in the winter. It ran into problems and for some obscure reason, the plan was scrapped.

The plan included a dock, a long jetty, a road to the point, and warehousing. All in all, it was a grand plan. But the powers-that-be in Ottawa gave up.

Someone suggested recently that the old causeway could be refurbished. That is not a solution. There is not enough water at high tide, and the rubble from the original construction would be very costly to remove.

The dock that I propose would enable larger ships to tie up at all tides. Regular schedules for voyages could be planned. The resupply season could be extended into a much later time. Passenger travel for tourists could be a possibility. A voyage to Frobisher Bay along the eastern sea coast would be an attractive adventure.

More importantly than all of the above, Nunavut’s fishing fleet could unload its catch here. The seafood could then be loaded within minutes on board returning flights to Montreal, thus providing a back-haul for the airlines. This would help reduce their costs, which hopefully would be manifested in cheaper air travel.

It should be pointed out that Canadian vessels working in this region must sail to Greenland for fuel, including the Royal Canadian Navy. The Government of Canada has a lot of catching up to do with its presence in the North.

Making life easier for its northern communities and its hunters will go along way to stabilize all aspects of sovereignty.

Bryan Pearson
Iqaluit



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