Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut August 01, 2014 - 12:04 pm

Nunavut to Iqaluit: extinguish dumpcano with your own money

"The city does have the necessary funds to extinguish the fire"

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
The Government of Nunavut has told the City of Iqaluit to pay for the extinguishment of its longstanding dump fire by dipping into its reserves. (FILE PHOTO)
The Government of Nunavut has told the City of Iqaluit to pay for the extinguishment of its longstanding dump fire by dipping into its reserves. (FILE PHOTO)

Pay for it yourself.

That’s the message the Government of Nunavut delivered to the City of Iqaluit in a letter sent Aug. 1 in response to requests that the GN help pay an estimated $2.4 million required to extinguish Iqaluit’s intractable dump fire.

That’s because the city’s financial statements show they’re sitting on $11.6 million in reserve funds — $7.5 million of which are unrestricted, meaning they can be used for any purpose.

“Based on the audited financial statements, the city does have the necessary funds to extinguish the fire, given the stated $2.4 million cost estimate and revised plan announced by the city last week,” the letter said.

The letter, signed by Tom Sammurtok, the community government minister, was sent to Mary Wilman, Iqaluit’s deputy mayor, on Aug. 1. (See embedded letter below.)

Sammurtok also said he’s disappointed the city cancelled a meeting of city and Nunavut government officials scheduled for the morning of Aug. 1.

Iqaluit City Council went ahead with an emergency meeting of its own that started at 11:30 a.m. Aug. 1.

Sammurtok’s letter also said the GN is spending $400,000 to help pay for extra hoses and other equipment required to put out the dump fire.

And he said the GN is willing to speed up its regular grants-in-lieu-of-tax payments and other transfers to help the city avoid a cash flow crunch that could be created by big new spending on putting out the fire.

The cost of putting out the 73-day-old dump fire has been a moving target.

Engineer Tony Sperling estimated the cost at around $3.5 million this past June, but that estimate rose to $4.5 million. The GN rejected a proposal from Iqaluit to fund that solution and the city began preparing a lower-cost application.

Later in July, the city pared that down to $2.2 million with 15 per cent added for contingencies.

The GN answered the lower-cost request this week, telling Iqaluit to find the money from within its reserves.

Meanwhile, the GN’s health department has downplayed the potential health effects of dump fire smoke blowing through Iqaluit, but advises pregnant women and people with respiratory conditions to take precautions.

(More to follow)

  Aug. 1 letter from Nunavut government to City of Iqaluit

 

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