Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik June 14, 2017 - 1:10 pm

Nunavik sees shortage of gravel and other building materials

“The expansion of our communities is exceptional"

SARAH ROGERS
Makivik Corp. president Jobie Tukkiapik takes INAC minister Carolyn Bennett on a tour of a housing construction site in Kuujjuaq last fall. The regional government is warning of a shortage of gravel and granular materials in Nunavik, used as housing pads and as a foundation for other infrastructure. (FILE PHOTO)
Makivik Corp. president Jobie Tukkiapik takes INAC minister Carolyn Bennett on a tour of a housing construction site in Kuujjuaq last fall. The regional government is warning of a shortage of gravel and granular materials in Nunavik, used as housing pads and as a foundation for other infrastructure. (FILE PHOTO)

UMIUJAQ—Some Nunavik communities face a shortage of gravel and other granular material used as a foundation for important infrastructure, the Kativik Regional Government says.

The region’s borrow pits and quarries exploited to supply communities with those materials are quickly being depleted, the KRG warned regional councillors at its latest meeting in Umiujaq.

Opening new pits means building new roads—which themselves require the material to be constructed—and municipalities are having to go further and further from communities to find the right space.

Gravel and other rock and sand material are needed in the construction of almost every type of infrastructure including roads, airstrips, parking lots and pads to build homes on.
“The expansion of our communities is exceptional,” Paul Parsons, assistant director at the KRG’s department of Municipal and Public Works, told KRG meetings June 1.

“And the granular materials are thought of as unlimited but some communities are seeing a real lack of these resources.”

The expansion of Nunavik’s communities depends very much on the availability of not just any material, Parsons noted, but the right mix of good quality granular material to serve as a strong foundation.

“Distances to access new burrow pits are now farther, access roads are now longer and these are having impacts on the trucks used to transport that material,” he told councillors.

“And in some cases, there’s just not enough natural gravel to build those roads.”

There are currently 23 borrow pits or quarries across the region, though some operate without the proper permits, authorized through Quebec’s environment department.

Most of the regulations imposed on pit operators are in place to protect local water sources.

Since 2014, the KRG has been working to renew eight of the region’s master land use plans to help communities find the best areas for future development.

As part of that process, the KRG says it’s doing an inventory of natural granular material to help Northern Villages identify new potential pit sites.

But, the regional government warns, the most promising sites are located outside of municipal boundaries and have no access roads.

Northern Villages and Landholding Corporations can also do their part to cut back on the need for the material in how they flag new land for development, the KRG said—by selecting pieces that don’t require new material as a base or by demolishing old buildings.

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