The Hamlet of Rankin Inlet is raising the temperature on the Government of Nunavut in its campaign for a new water supply system in the community.

“The condition of the utilidor system has reached a critical point where it is now exceeding capacity limits and is causing the council to delay and even stop development of the community,” wrote Mayor Harry Towtongie to Rankin Inlet South MLA Lorne Kusugak March 3, following a meeting between the hamlet council, Kusugak and Rankin Inlet North/Chesterfield Inlet MLA Alexander Sammurtok.

The letter was tabled in the legislative assembly.

Rankin Inlet’s council has had a moratorium on new development in old town for the past three years as a result of the Johnson Cove lift station being at maximum capacity, which has stopped a number of new housing and commercial developments in that part of town. The Johnson Cove lift station is scheduled for upgrade this summer, but that will only partly address current issues with the town’s water supply, wrote Towtongie.

“Just this morning, a developer of a 16-apartment complex nearing completion contacted the hamlet to advise that CGS (the Department of Community and Government Services) may not allow him to connect to the sewer utilidor because the system is at max capacity,” wrote Towtongie.

“Here will be 16 apartments, ready for occupancy, that will possibly end up sitting empty for some time in a community where housing supply is extremely short.”

The water supply side of the system is so taxed, continued Towtongie, that it cannot adequately supply flow to allow both potable water and fire suppression at the pressure needed to safely accommodate some of the high-density buildings being developed.

He pointed to a Nunavut Housing Corporation development of two five-plexes and three other five-plexes that will be completed this fall, as well as another development involving commercial space with 16 apartments to be connected late this fall.

“Combined, that is 57 units that will need connection to a system already at capacity,” wrote Towtongie, adding that doesn’t even factor in the requirements of the long-term care facility or new air terminal building.

The hamlet is currently ready to go to tender for a new subdivision to add 26 new lots for development, but has been advised to restrict zoning to accommodate buildings no larger than a five-plex.

“This will not permit the development of higher-density housing projects that are able to more effectively address the critical shortage of housing in the community,” wrote Towtongie.

Additionally, two of the town’s five utilidor loops are in “critical condition and requiring replacement before catastrophic failure.”

The system is owned and operated by the GN and Towtongie called the territorial government’s investment into it lacking.

“We need to advance this as a critical capital priority for our government,” wrote Towtongie. “Together we need to address this now.”

In the legislative assembly March 7, CGS Minister David Joanasie said the department is working to upgrade the town’s water infrastructure.

“This project is currently in the planning stage and we can anticipate that a business case will be completed this month, in March 2022,” he said, adding that capital funding may not be in the 2022-23 budget, but as planning nears completion, requests for capital funding will be made for the water treatment facility in Rankin inlet.

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