Iqaluit MLAs sound off on community’s dump fire
“Residents of this city are deeply concerned about the risk to human health and our environment”
Iqaluit MLAs, speaking at the Nunavut Legislative Assembly May 22, used their community’s continuing dump fire debacle to raise the issue of poor waste management in the territory’s capital
The MLA for Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu, Pat Angnakak, said the fire, which started May 20, “provides further evidence that action is urgently needed to provide modern waste management infrastructure in this capital.”
Iqaluit’s smouldering landfill site has two garbage piles in it that one Iqaluit city councillor once described as taller than Iqaluit’s highest buildings.
“Even as we speak residents of this city are deeply concerned about the risk to human health and our environment that results from incidents of this nature,” Angnakak said.
Angnakak admitted the cost of fixing all of Nunavut’s aging infrastructure is high — in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
“However, the cost of doing nothing is unaffordable,” Angnakak said.
Iqaluit has tried to do something about its waste management — city council passed a new solid waste plan earlier this year, which contains the promise of a new waste site within two years.
That scheme will cost the city about $14 million.
Angnakak said she met with federal senators during a recent fact-finding mission on how best to power Northern communities.
She spoke to them about recycling and renewable energy projects, such as the proposed hydroelectric dam for Iqaluit.
The MLA for Iqaluit-Tasiluk, George Hickes Jr., said he recognizes that opinions vary on the best way to deal with the Iqaluit dump fire.
“It’s important to recognize that there are legitimate differences of opinion among experts as to the best way forward,” Hickes said
It’s also a complex issue, he said.
This week, in fact, a new garbage gasification system proved more complicated than originally thought.
The city received funding for the new garbage-to-gas technology in April, but won’t be able to get the system running by its original deadline this summer.
Hickes mostly heaped praise on emergency responders and public works employees during the volcano-like dump fire during his members’ statement.
“Although the work of our firefighters, police, [emergency medical technician]’s search and rescue volunteers is extremely visible, there are many others that also deserve recognition and appreciation,” Hickes said.
“With this week’s incident, municipal services crews pulled off their normal runs to assist,” Hickes said.
Iqaluit-Sinaa MLA Paul Okalik reminded Iqalummiut that while the dump is still burning, garbage pick ups are now reduced to once a week.
To help out, he said residents should scale back the amount of garbage they produce and try to recycle.
“Try not to use too much plastics whenever if possible. And also cans and tins and pop cans — there are recycling [programs] happening and they use the money from these recycling plans for daycares.”
Okalik even urged those visiting southern Canada to bring their recyclables down south with them.
“We have to do our part to help our community so that our environment won’t be so badly damaged,” Okalik said.
The Government of Nunavut issued a public service announcement to residents of Iqaluit May 22.
“If you suffer from a chronic lung condition or if you have trouble breathing, you should take special care to avoid exposure to the smoke. You should remain indoors and keep your windows and doors closed.”
The City of Iqaluit is holding a press conference about the dump fire May 23, in the afternoon.