Nunavut needs big waste management overhaul, MLA says
“Protecting our environment becomes more critical with each passing day”
It’s Waste Reduction Week in Canada, and Pat Angnakak, the MLA for Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu, made the most of it by calling on the Government of Nunavut to implement recycling programs in the territory.
“Waste Reduction Week runs from Oct. 20 to Oct. 26 across the country,” Angnakak said in the legislative assembly, Oct. 22. She then highlighted her home community’s struggle with waste and garbage disposal.
“Mr. Speaker, the residents of Iqaluit are very familiar with the types of problems that can occur in the area of waste-management, and I would like to commend the City of Iqaluit for taking steps towards better waste-management in the community,” she said.
A four-month-long dump fire in a large garbage pile at the waste site pushed the city to separate garbage by type, in an effort to limit solid waste volumes and keep more fires from happening.
“Protecting our environment becomes more critical with each passing day,” she said. “If we made the effort (to reduce garbage), not just for the week, but for every month of the year, it would go a long way towards preserving this beautiful world we live in.”
Although no other community in the territory has had to manage a dump fire the size of Iqaluit’s, many hamlets admit that, like Iqaluit, their landfills are close to, or past capacity.
Nunavut’s department of Community and Government Services, which supervises waste plans in Nunavut’s hamlets, is aware of the issue.
But that doesn’t seem to be translating into action to deal with it, according to Angnakak.
“I am disappointed in the lack of leadership from our own government, in addressing solid waste management,” she told fellow MLAs and cabinet ministers.
“I am saddened not to see recycling projects listed in our current capital plan. I am worried that there is no territory-wide plan to collect and salvage re-usable materials.”
Angnakak then asked Tom Sammurtok, CGS minister, what his department is doing to help hamlet councils implement recycling programs.
Sammurtok replied that his department is developing “standard operating procedures” for hamlets to follow, which “provide guidelines to ensure solid waste facilities are properly managed, including segregation of hazardous materials, bulky metals, and recyclables.”
“Many communities do not have the means or capacity to start recycling programs by themselves,” Angnakak said, pointing out that local retailers such as co-ops and Northern stores have taken the lead to encourage recycling.
Sammurtok acknowledged that his department was seeking a contractor to help establish territory-wide solid waste management methods, but said he could not provide more information about the plan without first checking with departmental staff.