Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Iqaluit August 07, 2013 - 8:30 am

Iqaluit councillors worried about use of Federal Road for GN’s new airport

"We’re creating a gateway to our city that’s both ugly and uncomfortable to drive on"

PETER VARGA
The Government of Nunavut’s $300 million airport improvement project  will replace Iqaluit Airport’s yellow terminal with a new building 800 metres to the west, to be accessed from Federal Road — the only remaining unpaved roadway in the city centre, raising concerns among city councillors. (PHOTO BY PETER VARGA)
The Government of Nunavut’s $300 million airport improvement project will replace Iqaluit Airport’s yellow terminal with a new building 800 metres to the west, to be accessed from Federal Road — the only remaining unpaved roadway in the city centre, raising concerns among city councillors. (PHOTO BY PETER VARGA)

Iqaluit city councillors say they’re worried about the state of Federal Rd. and the fate of businesses around the old airport, once the Government of Nunavut’s new $300-million airport complex is completed in 2017.

Councillors directed their questions to the Government of Nunavut’s project manager for the airport at a a city planning and development committee meeting Aug. 6.

The GN’s new airport terminal building is to be located just off Federal Rd. about 800 metres west of the current terminal building.

That means passenger access to the new airport complex would only be possible via Federal Rd., one of the streets in he city centre that remain unpaved, councillors said.

The terminal would be accessible from Federal Rd. via Ungalliqpaat Crescent.

And Mivvik St., also known as the “Airport Road,” would no longer provide passenger access to the airport once the old terminal building closes.

This could a loss of customers for businesses along that street, city councillors said.

Coun. Romeyn Stevenson pointed out that the need to pave Federal Rd. came up in city council’s first consultation about airport improvement plans with the Government of Nunavut more than two years ago.

“That road isn’t prepared to take the traffic that we’re going to draw to it,” Stevenson said. “We’re creating a gateway to our city that’s both ugly and uncomfortable to drive on.”

More than one-third of the project’s $300 million budget is for repaving the airport’s runways and taxiways, GN officials told city council at the meeting as they presented an overview of the project.

“We had hoped that we could work out some kind of reasonable plan to have that road [Federal Rd.] paved as well as the airport,” Stevenson said. “There must be some economies of scale that we can get at to pave it.

“I certainly don’t think it’s only the airport’s responsibility, but I do think this [project] was chosen by the GN, not by the City of Iqaluit, and I think they need to take some responsibility for that.”

Coun. Simon Nattaq agreed that paving work to Federal Rd. is long overdue.

The GN’s chief airport project officer, Barry Reimer, responded that Federal Rd. was “not within the scope of the project,” because it is not within the boundaries of the airport.

Boundaries end at the southern extensions of Ungalliqpaat Crescent, he said, which will connect the terminal to Federal Rd.

Reimer suggested that any proposal to pave Federal Rd. should be taken to the territorial government.

Coun. Mark Morrissey shifted attention back to the current access road to the airport.

“I’ve spoken to a few of the businesses that are on Mivvik St.,” he said. “They are concerned about the loss of business they will experience once the main road into the airport will change to Federal Rd.”
Many flight passengers frequent the restaurants, retailers and other businesses lining that street, Morrissey said.

He asked whether project planners considered extending Mivvik St. past the old terminal once it is replaced by the new one further west.

Airport director John Hawkins responded that Mivvik St. would be extended, but only “airside” — meaning the roadway would only be used for internal work at the airport, and for emergency vehicles.

“Unfortunately, the area where the current terminal is and where the current businesses are — just can’t be built out enough,” said Hawkins. Space around the current airport terminal is simply too limited, he said.

“We are in a position where we have to build in a larger space. There is only one way to get there at this point — Federal Road and that’s it.”

Hawkins and Reimer also described a plan to exchange parcels of land with the city.

Nunavut’s department of Economic Development and Transportation has agreed to grant the city about 140,000 sq. metres of land belonging to, but not used by the airport.

Most of the parcels are located along Akilliq Drive in the West 40 area. The GN will transfer these to the city after it assesses the land for environmental hazards and removes contaminants, Hawkins said.

The city would in turn give the GN a total of about 5,800 square metres along airport boundaries for road allowances and road connections, according to the project presenters.

The territorial government expects to sign a final contract with Arctic Infrastructure Partners, the project builders, in mid-September, Reimer said.

Plans call for the airport project to be completed by December 2017.

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