Kivalliq mayors worried about landfills, mental health
"The hamlets are concerned”
Kivalliq mayors want action from the Government of Nunavut on their landfill sites, which will soon overflow.
That was among the issues that came up at the Kivallilq region mayors meeting held in Rankin Inlet Sept. 18 to Sept. 20, with Lorne Kusugak, Nunavut’s minister of Community and Government Services in attendance.
“We understand as communities it’s our responsibility to maintain [the landfills],” Rankin Inlet mayor Pujjuut Kusugak told Nunatsiaq News in a recent interview.
But most Kivalliq landfills are the same ones that have been there since the communities were established 50 years ago, he said.
“It’s an issue that needs to be dealt with and it’s not going to go away,” Kusugak said.
In a few years, the landfills will be over-filled and past capacity. And, at some landfills, hazardous materials and contaminated soil also need treatment, Kusugak said.
There are federal regulations to deal with landfills, Kusugak said, but “if we don’t have the capacity then we can’t deal with them.”
“The communities are doing the best they can right now. The hamlets are concerned,” he added.
Another issue that came up at the mayors’ meeting was a need for more mental health services, and more suicide prevention work “especially since we had one [suicide] just a few days before the meeting,” Kusugak said.
Communities want to see more mental health service providers, he said, adding that there also needs to be better follow-up as part of suicide prevention measures.
Kivalliq mayors also discussed common issues with a delegation from Manitoba, which included Eric Robinson, the deputy premier of Manitoba.
At the top of their list: the future of the joint power projects and a Manitoba to Nunavut road proposal.
The 1,200-kilometre road would connect into the existing Manitoba highway system at Gillam, roughly 250 kilometres south of Churchill.
The Manitoba port town, plus Arviat, Whale Cove and Rankin Inlet, would connect to the highway by feeder routes.
More than 60 bridges would have to be built along the planned route, which has pushed estimates of the project’s cost to at least $1.2 billion.
That project could also go hand-in-hand with hydro-electric power projects in the Kivalliq, which could feed excess electricity south to Manitoba.
Also discussed was health care and “the strong link between Nunavut and Manitoba,” which provides health care to the region through the J.A. Hildes Northern Medical Unit at the University of Manitoba.
“As a collective, we thanked Manitoba for taking care of our people,” Kusugak said.
Those at the meeting talked about Nunavut’s economic contribution to Manitoba, mainly through the shipping that takes place through Churchill to the Kivalliq.
Kivalliq mayors would like “some kind of way to get that returned,” Kusugak said, with hamlets working on “anything that we might be able to tap into with our southern neighbors.”
Links could also strengthened through culture, sports and arts, Kusugak said.
There used to be a Hudson Bay roundtable between Nunavut and Manitoba but that’s stopped meeting over the past few years, he said.
“We tried to push for that to continue,” Kusugak said.
For the most part the mayors’ meeting was successful although “it would have been nice to hear exactly what’s going to be done with landfill sites,” Kusugak said.
Meanwhile, further meetings have been set with Manitoba “so that we can move forward in some topics.”
A similar meeting among the Kitikmeot region’s mayors was held in Cambridge Bay earlier this month.