The Co-op's convenience store in Igulik has been expanded into a mini grocery store since a fire destroyed the much larger main store on Jan. 20.
photo courtesy of Arctic Co-operatives

Some semblance of normalcy has returned in Iglulik following a devastating fire that destroyed the community’s Co-op on Jan. 20

“It’s smooth sailing right now, knock on wood,” Mayor Merlyn Recinos said. “Everything is working out pretty good … we don’t see huge issues.”

Some residents have expressed concern about certain products seeming to be more expensive than usual at the Northern store but Recinos said managers at the retailer have attributed that to typical seasonal fluctuation. Some sealift merchandise has been selling out and the replacement products cost more to fly in by plane, he said.

The freezer section of the Co-op’s mini grocery store, an upgrade on the convenience store in Iglulik. photo courtesy of Arctic Co-operatives

“We’re still monitoring the situation and communicating with them just to ensure that that’s the case and nothing else,” said Recinos.

The Co-op quickly renovated its convenience store to turn it into a mini grocery store. The greatest challenge has been maximizing space as the convenience store – at approximately 1,100 square feet – only offers about 20 per cent of the area that was available at the Co-op. Offices in the smaller building were transformed into more space for stock.

“Member and community support has remained strong considering the much smaller footprint,” said Duane Wilson, vice-president of stakeholder relations for Arctic Co-operatives.

The hamlet approved of the convenience store opening 24 hours a day throughout the week to help meet demand among the close to 1,700 residents.

Recinos said that situation has been closely observed for any nighttime disturbances, but there’s been no issues after the first few weeks, he noted.

“There’s no disruption to the community,” said the mayor.

Wilson said the razed Co-op had proper insurance.

“So the member/owners of the Co-op in Iglulik need not have any concerns with respect to their accumulated equity in the co-operative,” he said.

The RCMP deemed the Co-op fire suspicious. That investigation continues.

Plans are being made to ship construction supplies to Iglulik with the 2021 sealift so work to rebuild the Co-op grocery store can begin.

Ongoing fundraiser

A GoFundMe online fundraiser with a goal of $100,000 reached $92,950 as of Tuesday morning.

The organizer stated that all of the money will go to the Iglulik Food Bank.

“We’re still waiting for that one to come to fruition,” Recinos said. “There’s a plan for the food bank in regards to how they would manage (the funds).”

Other food bank donations have already been received from the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and Arctic Fresh.

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