The year 2013 in Iqaluit: news highlights
As year ends, city looks forward to new airport, swimming pool
Iqaluit council ponders arson
At a meeting held at Abe Okpik Hall Jan. 8, city councillors said they’re worried about a rash of suspicious fires set by vandals and arsonists.
Council pledges support for the disabled
Iqaluit City Council voted unanimously Jan. 9 to help the Nunavummi Disabilities Makinnasuaqtit Society find ways of overcoming transportation and other barriers.
Weekend blizzard claims two lives
Volunteer searchers found the body of a 27-year-old Pauloosie Qaunirq and the body of an 18-year-old girl, Feb. 4, just two miles north of the airport runway.
Paulusie and the girl appeared to have gone out on the land in the afternoon of Feb.1, just a few hours before a powerful winter storm swept across Iqaluit, creating blizzard conditions for almost two days.
City, union lambaste GN
“Cavalier” — that’s the word Iqaluit mayor John Graham used to describe a March 12 decision by the Government of Nunavut to reopen their offices as city crews struggled to clean up snow-clogged streets after an overnight blizzard.
A blizzard brought winds of up to 90 kilometres per hour to Iqaluit, March 11, forcing the city to shut down.
Despite warnings from Iqaluit’s mayor, John Graham, to stay off the roads, Government of Nunavut offices re-opened March 12, but the airport, federal government offices and many other offices and business and schools remained closed for the morning.
Firm says sabotage caused RCMP building to sink
Shifting foundations under the RCMP headquarters’ new building in Iqaluit are the result of deliberate sabotage to a cooling system designed to hold it in place within permafrost, according to the firm that installed the system.
Google Maps puts Iqaluit on street view
A Google mapping team started photographing the city March 19 with 40-pound “trekker” backpacks equipped with cameras to create panoramic, 360-degree street-level photographs of Iqaluit.
Council gives green light for new jail
Iqaluit’s city council issued permits for the construction of a new jail next to the Baffin Correctional Centre.
The new jail, with 24 cells for 48 minimum-security inmates, will relieve overcrowding at the BCC.
Court fines unruly plane passenger
Two justices of the peace ordered Darren Cosby, 39, to pay a fine of $2,000 and reimburse Air Transat $13,875 for causing an Air Transat flight from Vancouver to London to make an emergency landing in Iqaluit.
Cosby pleaded guilty April 4 to a charge of unruly behaviour under the Aeronautics Act.
Darren Cosby, 39, also faced charges of uttering threats, causing a disturbance, and mischief, which were stayed.
Coun. Jimmy Kilabuk passes away
Long-time Iqaluit city councillor Jimmy Kilabuk dies April 19, 10 days after announced his resignation from city council by teleconference at a regular meeting April 9.
Kilabuk, 71, had not attended any council meetings since his re-election on Oct. 15, 2012, due to ill health.
“I am not getting any better at all and I want to submit my resignation as a councillor,” he told council. “I regret that I have to give my resignation. I would like to thank all those who have elected me and those who have not. I feel I have no more strength to go on.”
Kilabuk The former firefighter and prison guard served as mayor from 1997 to 2000, and as councillor and deputy mayor in other terms since the 1990s.
Nunavut’s capital gets into Toonik Tyme mood
Drum-dancing, throat-singing, a bit of gospel and blues, hip-hop moves, humour and a few speeches: that’s what the annual Toonik Tyme opening celebrations delivered in opening days of the festival, April 12 to April 13, at the Iqaluit curling rink.
After welcoming the audience to Toonik Tyme, Iqaluit Mayor John Graham said that “spring in Iqaluit just wouldn’t be the same” without the festival.
Iqaluit “overdue” for new roads and sidewalks
Recent spring melt and rain have exposed the weaknesses in Iqaluit’s roads and sidewalks, Keith Couture, the city’s director of public works, told city council May 7.
These must be built anew with clear plans for a drainage system to carry water run-off out of the city, Couture said.
“Roads are a big issue in Iqaluit,” Couture said. “We have a mess.”
Iqaluit councillors square off on boulders and posts
Do boulders and wooden posts on Iqaluit roadsides provide safety for pedestrians, or are they a roadside hazard?
The debate resurfaced at the Iqaluit city council’s meeting on May 14. Coun. Romeyn Stevenson resisted the idea of removing the barriers from roadsides until way is found to separate pedestrian walkways from vehicles.
Design firm unveils cemetery plans
A design firm unveiled plans for the city’s new cemetery June 5, revealing a three-phase site that will hold 1,346 burial plots during the first two phases and last at least 30 years.
The cemetery site is located at the eastern end of Apex near Rotary Park.
Two dogs attack people at Northmart
Two dogs attacked a small group of people outside the Northmart store in Iqaluit, June 19. One store employee suffered dog bites in the early morning attack.
At about 6:30 a.m., members of the Iqaluit RCMP attempted to subdue the dogs, described as short-haired breeds, with pepper spray. Police shot one of the animals after it attacked an officer.
Iqaluit celebration honours Nunavut sealing experts
Organizers of the June 21 Celebration of the Seal in Iqaluit honoured two experts at this year’s event to show that sealing is alive and well in Nunavut.
Elisapi Davidee-Aningmiuq earned recognition for her many years of work teaching sealskin preparation skills in Iqaluit through the Tukisigiarvik community centre, and skilled hunter Sandy Oolayou was honoured for routinely sharing his catch with the community.
“These people don’t get enough recognition for the kind of work that they do for the community,” said celebration organizer Aaju Peter.
“They’ve done so much to further the cause of the seal.”
Ninth Alianait festival draws record crowds
The Alianait Arts Festival attracted more than 5,000 spectators to all musical events, which amounted to “the best turnout ever,” said the festival’s executive director, Heather Daley. Alianait’s main stage at Nakasuk School drew capacity crowds for opening and closing night concerts on June 27 and July 1.
Iqaluit council approves new subdivision
Iqaluit’s next development area will be along the Road to Nowhere.
City council approved the subdivision, which includes 14.9 hectares of “developable land,” at a regular meeting Sept. 10, but warned the city’s planning and development department against following the example of the city’s most recent development area, the Plateau, for the layout of roads, buildings and houses.
GN signs $300-million Iqaluit airport deal
The GN and a business group called Arctic Infrastructure Partners unveiled plans to rebuild the Iqaluit airport after signing a deal Sept. 17 for the design, construction, financing and maintenance of the $300 million project.
Dubbed the “Iqaluit International Airport Improvement Project,” the scheme includes a new terminal, a new combined services building for firefighting and maintenance equipment, and extensive repaving.
Iqaluit, NHC stuck in Catch-22 dispute
The Nunavut Housing Corp. refuses to pay city tax arrears of more than $336,000 on a set of buildings it controls in Iqaluit until the city agrees to forgive one-third of the bill, which represents interest charges racked up by the previous owner.
The corporation has not registered the lot lease under its name, and the city insisted that it must first pay all arrears in order to do so.
Anti-fracking protest shuts Four Corners
About 25 protestors shut down Iqaluit’s Four Corners, the busiest intersection in Nunavut, in an Oct. 18 march supporting the Elsipogtog First Nation’s anti-fracking protests in New Brunswick.
Noah Papatsie wins vacant council seat
Iqaluit voters elected their eighth city councillor Oct. 28, choosing Noah Papatsie to fill a seat left vacant by the late Jimmy Kilabuk in April.
Papatsie edged second-place finisher Stephen Mansell by just 384 to 364 votes, Iqaluit’s returning officer Kirt Ejesiak reported.
Bell Mobility clarifies plans for cellular upgrade
Iqaluit residents can expect a major upgrade to cellphone services in 2014, once Bell Mobility installs two new cellular towers in the city.
The upgrade promises to bring wireless service in the Nunavut capital up to a level offered in major Canadian cities, known as 4G, which supports smartphones and tablets.
Toonik Tyme group wants city’s help
Organizers of Iqaluit’s Toonik Tyme spring festival called on the city to help run the event.
The municipality was the festival’s “central organizing force” in the earlier years of Toonik Tyme’s 49-year history, Chris Scullion, interim president of the Toonik Tyme Society, told city council Nov. 26.
Road to Nowhere subdivision plans take shape
Urban designers unveiled two proposed plans for a new residential subdivision on the Road to Nowhere.
One includes 600 units and the other, 651 units. Both plans have a similar street pattern.
At a public consultation meeting, designer Christopher Moise spoke of the potential for an elementary school and commercial space within the area.
Iqaluit police arrests down six per cent
As the year drew to a close, Iqaluit’s RCMP detachment reported that police arrests for 2013 remained below last year’s levels.
Police made 2,242 arrests and detentions between the beginning of the year to the end of October, more than six per cent fewer than last year’s prisoner count of 2,388 over the same period, according to a quarterly report submitted to Iqaluit city council on Nov. 26.
The report, by Sgt. Monty Lecomte, which covers the months of August through October, notes that arrests in September were particularly low compared to last year, totalling 191 compared with last year’s 271.
Iqaluit council wants incinerator
Iqaluit City Council stopped just short of adopting a new solid waste management plan Dec. 10 — because it does not include plans for an incinerator.
Council passed a motion to take the proposal back to the engineering committee for discussion.
Iqaluit gives green light to $30M aquatic centre
Iqaluit’s plans for a $30 million state-of-the-art aquatic centre got the go-ahead Dec. 16, when city council approved the design and development permit for the new facility.
The aquatic centre will stand next to the city’s multipurpose Arnaitok Complex — which includes city hall, the fire hall and Arnaitok Arena – by mid-2016.
Council approves $300 million airport scheme
Iqaluit City Council cleared the way for the start of construction on the territorial government’s new Iqaluit airport Dec. 18, after winning some concessions from the developer to improve Federal Road and other infrastructure tied to the $300-million project.