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Chesterfield Inlet in ‘urgent need’ of new airport terminal building

Tender challenges causing delay
Photos tabled by Rankin Inlet North–Chesterfield Inlet MLA Alexander Sammurtok show the poor condition of the Chesterfield Inlet air terminal building. Photo courtesy of Alexander Sammurtok

Chesterfield Inlet is in urgent need of a new airport terminal building, reported Rankin Inlet North–Chesterfield Inlet MLA Alexander Sammurtok in the legislative assembly this past fall sitting on Nov. 2.

He tabled photographs showing the poor condition of the building.

“Although the legislative assembly has previously approved millions of dollars in funding towards this project, the government has cancelled a number of tenders because of high bids,” he said. “Can the minister confirm when a new tender for the Chesterfield Inlet airport terminal building project will be issued?”

Minister of Economic Development and Transportation David Akeeagok responded that his department would continue working on this project, but he wasn’t sure when there would be a third tender for it.

This past spring, Sammurtok tabled a letter from the mayor of Chesterfield Inlet, who was requesting that the government issue a standalone tender for the airport terminal building rather than bundling it with tenders for other projects. Sammurtok asked Akeeagok if he would agree to that request.

“When we get to that stage where we are tendering, that’s when the decision is going to be made,” replied Akeeagok. “If we’re in the Kivalliq, if we have those three projects doing the exact thing, it makes sense to try to tender them together. That is something that we tried; we tried it with all five, and then we tried with the three, and now we are left of what do we do. That portion and the discussions that we are having with Transport Canada are still there. So once we get to that stage then I’ll be able to know which way the tenders are going to go for these five air terminal projects.”

Aivilik MLA Solomon Malliki was on a similar track when he asked Akeeagok whether there would be a new tender for the Naujaat airport terminal project.

The three communities – Naujaat, Chesterfield Inlet and Whale Cove – are bundled together and the tender is not currently open,” replied Akeeagok through interpretation. “We will reopen it.”

The tendering process has been dragging on for close to two years. In 2020, the GN earmarked $30 million for the five airports — Kugluktuk and Kimmirut being the other two — with the funding coming from the Government of Canada’s National Trade Corridors Fund. However, no successful bids emerged.

Update: After press time for this story, the government issued a new tender for the airport terminal work, bundling Chesterfield Inlet, Whale Cove and Naujaat together.