Taloyoak in desperate need of new airport, deputy mayor complains
“If the fire marshal was around, he’d close that terminal down”
Taloyoak is in desperate need of a new airport, deputy mayor Charlie Lyall said at the Nunavut Association of Municipalities general meeting in Iqaluit May 24, in one of several airport-related complaints from Nunavut municipal leaders.
“If the fire marshal was around, he’d close that terminal down, it’s just so overcrowded,” Lyall said.
The GN has known about the problem for the last 10 years, Lyall said. The building is more than 40 years old.
“Our terminal building is very, very small. We have two airlines coming into the community — one has a very nice office the other one has a rolling desk in the middle of the waiting room,” Lyall said, describing the desk as a little platform that’s probably two feet by two feet wide.
This means there are people who work in the building who aren’t safe, he said.
New flooring has recently been put in, but small renovations are not enough, Lyall said.
“That leads me to believe that there’s some dignitary coming in and that we cannot embarrass them by showing the holes in the floor and the walls,” he said.
Besides the cramped terminal, the runway lights are left on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which is not acceptable, Lyall said.
“It must be costing the government a fair bit of money to keep those lights on. I would probably think that it’d be cheaper to repair them then to leave them on 24 hours a day,” he said.
The only obstacle standing in the way of a new airport terminal for Taloyoak is lack of funding, Bob Long, Nunavut’s deputy minister for economic development and transportation, said in response.
“As soon as I can get my hands on the money, that will be the next terminal building built,” Long said.
“We’ve done the design work and we are ready to go to construction. All we need is $4 million approximately and I’m hoping that I can tell you next year that it’s in the capital plan and it will happen,” he said.
The issue of the runway lights, however, will be fixed this year in the Government of Nunavut’s capital plan, Long said.
“If there’s some on-off switch that’s not working, we’ll get somebody there quickly to fix that, I was not aware of that concern,” he said.
The GN will pick up the tab for the demolition of the old airport in Qikiqtarjuaq, Long said. That work will be done this summer.
The runway at Cambridge Bay airport will be widened because it doesn’t meet safety standards at its current width, he said.
And as for the airport in the middle of town in Pangnirtung, Long acknowledged that a large number of airport studies have been done on it.
“We don’t know if going to the top of the hill, and building an airport there is the best answer, or whether extending the existing airport is the best answer,” Long said.
Data needs to be analyzed before the GN can make any kind of move, Long said.
“As options become clear, we’ll talk about it, either way. It’s a very expensive thing to put the airport on the top of the hill and if we decide to extend the airport in the middle of town, there’s still issues around that too. It’s far from ideal, given the noise and the risk and the fact that we’d probably have to push towards the graveyard to make it longer,” he said.