Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Iqaluit August 10, 2018 - 2:30 pm

Community comes out to brainstorm water bylaw issue

“If somebody needs a temporary permit, then find a temporary way to do it”

Concerned Iqaluit residents attend a public consultation at city hall on Thursday, Aug. 9, about a proposed water and sewage bylaw amendment. (PHOTO BY COURTNEY EDGAR)
Concerned Iqaluit residents attend a public consultation at city hall on Thursday, Aug. 9, about a proposed water and sewage bylaw amendment. (PHOTO BY COURTNEY EDGAR)

Iqaluit residents packed the city’s council chambers on the night of Thursday, Aug. 9 to express concerns over proposed changes to the city’s water bylaw.

Many say the changes look like a move to privatize the city’s provision of freshwater, though the mayor and city councillors deny that.

After the defeat of a motion proposed at the last city council meeting to allow some Iqaluit businesses to secure their own licensed water provider, the city set up a public consultation last night on proposed changes to Water and Sewer Bylaw #200.

These would allow the city to enter into agreements with private companies to provide water and sewer hauling services to commercial and/or industrial clients.

About 30 people crammed into the small City Hall chambers for the consultation, where Mayor Madeleine Redfern told the room that all the comments made during the meeting, whether oral or written, would be compiled, shared online for the public record and provided to council.

“Ultimately, it is council’s discretion how Bylaw 200 will be amended,” Redfern said, adding that it will be on the agenda for the next council meeting on Aug. 14, when the task force set up to handle the city’s water shortage will also provide updates.

“An important thing to note is this is not the privatization of water, this is the private hauling of water, for a very small, very limited, amount of entities,” Redfern said. “This is not going to displace or replace our current water and sewage system.”

Of those who spoke at the consultation, many spoke of a need for transparency, clarity and accessible information, monitoring water usage and waste water, the effects the brewery will have on the already-low water supply, rewording key points in the bylaw amendment and larger projects related to tapping into new water sources.

The first speaker was Bethany Scott, who said, “Fundamentally some of the changes that are proposed in the bylaw do change the nature of how the city interacts with its water source.”

The section she was most concerned about is section 65.2, where it says that persons that are authorized to provide trucked services for a fee will have the right to re-sell the water to customers as they deem appropriate.

“I really don’t think we should allow these private companies to re-sell it at their own profit,” Scott said.

Her suggested solution is to have the city find a way to provide water to the few businesses that need more water without making changes to the bylaw.

She said she knows the brewery has been authorized to haul 10,000 litres of water from Lake Geraldine.

“If somebody needs a temporary permit, then find a temporary way to do it,” Scott asked.

“I know that you say it is not privatization but there are many of us who feel like there is a link.”

Anne Crawford, a lawyer, would like to see the city contract a third-party supplier, so that water can remain a public resource, while the city takes its time to put a new bylaw in place. She also mentioned that the language of the newer version of the bylaw is very oriented toward ownership—private agreements, contracts and manager are frequent words.

“I wonder if fundamentally these are the principles we should be acting on,” Crawford said.

Another speaker brought up the fact that the city has had a water issue for years, “since before the brewery ever bought hops,” reminding council of “Waterless Wednesdays,” when there was no water delivery to homes and business on trucked services on that day.

Cody Dean is one of the investors in the brewery, whose business has been halted for months in the absence of sufficient water.

“The brewery has become a lightning rod for this amendment. We just want water,” Dean said.

“You create this fear that the city is going to run out of water but we’re already without water.”

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(12) Comments:

#1. Posted by Understand what you vote for! on August 10, 2018

Simon Nattiq voted no in the motion that was defeated a week or two ago which would allow some Iqaluit businesses to secure their own licensed water provider to access city water and sewage. When asked why at last nights consultation he explained he voted no because he doesn’t believe the brewery should be accessing water from the Sylvia Grinnel river. This goes to show that he was not informed or able to comprehend the motion he was voting on, which had NOTHING to do with drawing water from the river, nor was the motion specifically about the brewery. As a councillor, he also does not have any authority over the river as the river and park fall under territorial legislation. This begs me to wonder how many other bylaws or motions are being voted on by councillors who don’t have a clue as to what they are voting on. I hope the mayor, deputy mayor, other councillors, and city administration ensure that their colleagues are informed on future bylaws or motions prior to being voted on.

#2. Posted by really? on August 10, 2018

So let me get this straight. Iqaluit is on the verge of running out of water,so much so, that they are now under a “Health emergency” and now they want to authorize more water to be pumped out of the water source?

what are the Councillors and Mayor smoking, because I want some.

#3. Posted by sled dog on August 10, 2018

Like her or not, you gotta admit Anne Crawford does not miss a thing.

#4. Posted by City slicker on August 10, 2018

@#2 this isn’t about the water shortage. That issue will be taken care of when they pipe water from the apex river and an unnamed lake. They needed to call it an ‘emergency’ so the city can access territorial and possible federal help/funding to mitigate the water shortage in Lake Geraldine due to the drought this year and the reality that the city has no $ to solve the problem themselves.

If one wishes Iqaluit to remain a viable place for living, then residents and business’s need to have access to water and sewage services, and if the city is running at full capacity and can’t meet the needs of 2-3 business that require water and sewage services (Because that what it’s all about) then they need to allow an exception under the current bylaw,  or amend the old one. Too much fear mongering and uninformed opinions have seemingly confused many including some on city council as it seems.

#5. Posted by Sledogged on August 10, 2018

Sled dog: please explain Anne Crawford’s brilliance on this issue because I read the article and couldn’t understand what the heck she was getting at. But, I must confess that I seldom do…

#6. Posted by flip of a light switch on August 11, 2018

Iqaluit, the Southern city of the North.  You want water for an alcohol brewery and you want water for a 40+ million dollar pool.  You have what you want, what you voted for, along with the created problems of your wants.  Proof in the problems, are that Southern ways do not reflect what the North can offer, for what many think is as easy as a flip of a light switch.

#7. Posted by Insider on August 11, 2018

Light bulb moment -

We are surrounded by water - build a de-salinization plant for an endless supply.

#8. Posted by pootoogook on August 11, 2018

We are surrounded by water - light bulb idea - build a  
de-salination plant for an endless supply!

#9. Posted by Fox on August 12, 2018

#4 - if I am reading this and the letters posted by the GN and city. The GN has declared this an emergency and been doing so since June. I have yet to see any city posting saying its an emergency, so how is the city to get funding if they don’t accept its urgency.

#2 that’s the city prioritizing business needs like everyone has been asking. Lowering taxes, budget cuts and job creation. What are the chances to cut budgets they cut jobs that were ment to take care of the water lake before it got to this point.

Have you ever gone to pay a bill look around at all the empty seats, how is one person the only one there for three times the I came to pay a bill. Is she the only one in there?

#10. Posted by Anne Crawford on August 13, 2018

With thanks to Sleddog…. I tend to agree with #5….when I read this article I have no notion what the Nunatsiaq News is describing as my presentation.

What I did say was: there are several ways, under the current bylaw or with very minor changes, that the City could provide services to the customers needing utilities and then take its time developing a bylaw that was more consistent with the principles the City and Iqalunngmiut seem to want to govern the supply of water. 

And yes, the draft by-law was very focused on rights, contracts and property and had less transparency and less public accountability than most of us would want. 

It was a good meeting with diverse opinion and we hope that the City will follow through on some of the ideas presented.

Now we need to talk about the water emergency - how we got here…..and how to minimize the damages….and how to secure a long term water source.

#11. Posted by Good Sleddoggo on August 13, 2018

I agree Anne. We need to talk about the water emergency that was declared by nunavut’s chief medical officer on July 27 despite the city’s claims that there is no emergency or crisis.

The public ‘consultation’ was a sham. they didn’t even distribute copies of the current and proposed bylaws.

#12. Posted by Trouble shooter on August 14, 2018

Why doesn’t some one just ask an elder what to do?

And… *poof* IQ magic!

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