Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit April 09, 2014 - 4:19 pm

Cleanup group wants Iqaluit to clamp down on construction waste

Department of Environment favours “corporate challenge” on cleanup day

PETER VARGA
Volunteers do their bit in Iqaluit during the 2013 territory-wide community clean-up, June 28. Organizers from Nunavut’s Department of Environment are calling on the City of Iqaluit to include construction sites in this year’s effort. (FILE PHOTO)
Volunteers do their bit in Iqaluit during the 2013 territory-wide community clean-up, June 28. Organizers from Nunavut’s Department of Environment are calling on the City of Iqaluit to include construction sites in this year’s effort. (FILE PHOTO)

The onset of warmer weather means it’s time to start planning for community spring cleaning in Iqaluit.

Melting snow will uncover half a year’s worth of hidden garbage — but that’s only part of the job, say spring cleanup organizers in Iqaluit. They say more should be done about construction waste in the city.

Jamesee Moulton, pollution prevention specialist with Nunavut’s environment department, heads up the annual community clean-up effort throughout the territory, starting in mid-June. The department organizes the event as part of its anti-littering program.

Construction waste has become a big part of Iqaluit’s litter problem, and he wants the city to lend a hand in an effort to clear it away.

“I’m not putting the current enforcement system down, but the fact of the matter is there do tend to be fairly unsightly places within the community,” Moulton told city council at a regular meeting, April 8.

The city’s unsightly lands by-law, passed in December 2011, normally covers such issues.

“For a number of years now we’ve been trying to figure out how to get the larger construction companies in town to get involved in the community clean-up,” he said. “Because what we see every year is a lot of debris, originating from a lot of these construction sites around town.”

One idea, Moulton said, is to encourage companies to clean up their properties through a corporate challenge.

“We figure the City of Iqaluit is probably best poised to issue such a challenge to the companies,” he said.

Councillors agreed. Among them, Kenny Bell remarked that the city’s unsightly lands by-law was supposed to cover the problem, but “isn’t enforced.”

“Maybe we should send out our enforcement agents this month or next month to say that we are going to start enforcing this bylaw,” he said.

As far as the clean-up event, Bell said “this is a good time to issue the challenge” to construction companies.

Moulton said he is willing to highlight a few companies in particular for heavy littering.

“I really think these companies should get involved. The whole drive behind this is sort of a ‘public shaming idea,’ or I should say ‘public rewarding’ of companies,” he said, drawing laughs from councillors and others at the meeting.

“A challenge issued by city council would make it a lot more visible,” Moulton said.

Contrary to Bell, Coun. Romeyn Stevenson said the city’s unsightly lands by-law has been used, “but enforcement of it takes time.”

“There are obviously properties that deserve to have orders given to them that haven’t yet, mostly because municipal officers are busy with a lot of other things,” he told Nunatsiaq News.

Contravention of the by-law carries a penalty of up to $2,000 for an individual, and $10,000 for a corporation. The regulation includes provisions covering building materials, animal waste and “inoperative vehicles.”

City councillors agreed to contribute to the clean-up event by encouraging construction and other private companies through a corporate challenge.

“We believe the clean-up should be a positive thing,” Stevenson said.

“I think we should be enforcing our unsightly lands bylaw, but also people should be plain old taking responsibility for their mess, and cleaning it up.”

Organized by Nunavut’s environment department in collaboration with federal government employees and Nunavut Tourism, this year’s day-long community clean-up in Iqaluit is slated for June 13, Moulton said, weather permitting.

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