Nunavut MLA makes a pitch for better marine infrastructure
It's about "protecting lives and property in our smaller communities,” says Tununiq MLA Joe Enook
Tununiq MLA Joe Enook is up in arms about the lack of marine infrastructure in Pond Inlet.
That’s after a storm swept through Pond Inlet in August, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage to boats and hunting equipment.
“I have been raising concerns about the lack of adequate marine infrastructure in Pond Inlet since the day I was elected to serve the people of Tununiq,” Enook said in the legislative assembly Sept. 6.
In 2011 marine infrastructure was the main talking point in a Pond Inlet by-election that Enook captured with about 60 per cent of the vote.
Enook, who hasn’t yet announced his candidacy for the Oct. 28 territorial election, said he wants to “work with the Government of Nunavut and the federal government to identify a practical and affordable solution,” to the issue of basic marine infrastructure.
“If we’re willing to commit a quarter-billion dollar airport project for Iqaluit, we should also be willing to commit to protecting lives and property in our smaller communities,” Enook said in a member’s statement.
Enook went on to quiz transportation minister Peter Taptuna, saying he eventually wants a small craft harbour or docking facility.
“To ensure that we aren’t in an emergency every summer, what is the department doing to solve this problem?” Enook asked.
Taptuna didn’t deny the problem in Pond Inlet, and said “we lack infrastructure in Nunavut, basically in all our communities, except Pangnirtung where the small craft harbour has been completed.”
But Taptuna said marine infrastructure isn’t the responsibility of the GN, but of the federal government.
However, Taptuna said this past summer his department paid for a boat launch for Pond Inlet and that “equipment for the boat launch is being delivered to Pond Inlet at this time.”
And although Enook said he is grateful for the boat launch, it is still an “inadequate solution.” He asked if Taptuna has brought the issue up with Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq.
Taptuna said the lack of infrastructure in Nunavut is “brought up constantly” at every federal-provincial-territorial conference, but said that the GN “cannot afford the $60 to $70 million for that type of infrastructure.”
To that, Enook said Nunavut should “try to solve it ourselves,” if the federal government isn’t going to help with the cost.
“This is one of the things, as a department with limited funding, that’s all that we are able to do,” Taptuna said.
In a minister’s statement Sept. 10 Taptuna said his department has helped 19 communities in Nunavut with $1.6 million for dock upgrades, dredging, boat launches, installation of floating docks and upgrades to sealift areas.
Taptuna said these projects “send a strong message” to the federal government and said “Nunavut is committed to allocating resources to marine infrastructure and the government of Canada must also embrace its clear mandate to make significant and sustained investments in ports and harbours which are so desperately needed in our community.”
On Sept. 9, in the legislative assembly Enook also pressed environment minister James Arreak about compensation for those who lost boats in the August storm that Enook said caused tens of thousands worth of damages.
Arreak said there is compensation available through conservation officers, and said the maximum for a claim is $10,000.
Enook said Sept. 10 in the legislative assembly that some people’s claims would add up to over $10,000 and said one hunter is facing $18,500 worth of damages.
Arreak said he encourages all beneficiaries and those with hunting licenses to apply for claims.