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GN to study marine infrastructure needs, delaying community projects

Nunavut communities waiting for marine infrastructure are going to have to wait some more.

Construction takes place on the $72-million Iqaluit-deep port in August. 2018. The GN is now going to study all marine infrastructure needs across Nunavut to determine its next projects. Michele LeTourneau/NNSL photo

The federal government has made $2.2 million available for the Government of Nunavut to undertake a study of community needs this year, Economic Development Minister David Akeeagok announced in the legislative assembly in late February.

"This work will set the stage for future marine infrastructure projects, such as the creation or expansion of breakwaters, dedicated laydown areas, ramps, secure fencing, lighting, and small craft launching and unloading zones," Akeeagok said.

Aggu MLA Paul Quassa expressed exasperation that the GN hasn't already prioritized marine infrastructure across the territory.

"I think we all know, for those of us who live in the communities, that there doesn’t really need to be a detailed study done," said Quassa. "We know what the community needs and what has to be done with regard to marine infrastructure."

Akeeagok acknowledged that some communities already have a marine infrastructure needs plan, "but some of them are kind of old so we will update them." He added that recent soil erosion along the coastline is another factor to be considered.

"We have to look at the depth of the ocean, the bedrock and so on in order to build proper infrastructure," the minister said.

Quassa replied that there's a known need for a breakwater in Hall Beach.

"I just want to see some tangible assets being built in the communities," he said.

Hall Beach Mayor Jaypetee Audlakiak can attest to the urgency for a barrier to prevent pounding Arctic waters from damaging local boats and other equipment that hunters leave on shore.

"We'll be just waiting for the time when they could start that breakwater," the mayor said. "We've been bringing that item up every year."

Originally from Qikiqtarjuaq, Audlakiak said he's seen the difference a breakwater has made in that community.

He added that he'll be attending a mayors' conference in a few weeks and he plans to raise the issue once again.

Akeeagok also announced $2.5 million will be used from the federal Oceans Protection Plan to install 70-tonne mooring posts to support fuel resupply in Arviat, Gjoa Haven, Pangnirtung, Sanikiluaq and Taloyoak.

The major marine infrastructure projects on the books for the GN last year were construction of a $72-million deep-sea port and improvements to the small-craft harbour in Iqauit – which included a fixed wharf and almost 10 acres of area for loading and unloading cargo – as well as a small-craft harbour in Pond Inlet that carried an estimated price tag of $33 million.