Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut July 04, 2013 - 9:07 am

Nunavut picks group for 30-year, $300-million Iqaluit airport scheme

Consortium expected to start construction on massive project by spring of 2014

A view of Iqaluit's current airport terminal building. The Government of Nunavut claims its huge airport replacement project will
A view of Iqaluit's current airport terminal building. The Government of Nunavut claims its huge airport replacement project will "enhance and expand the existing air transportation network to improve the social and economic future of the communities of Nunavut." (FILE PHOTO)

A business group called “Arctic Infrastructure Partners” will build and operate Iqaluit’s new proposed $300-million airport for 30 years under a contract, the Government of Nunavut announced July 3.

The group has yet to sign contracts with the government, but the GN said they’ve selected the Arctic Airport group as “the preferred proponent” over two other competitors that made it into the request for proposals stage of the bidding process this past October.

The GN will now negotiate with the group and aim for a signed contract later this summer.

The massive construction project may be the biggest single project ever in Iqaluit’s history, and the biggest capital project ever undertaken by the GN.

Equipment and materials for the scheme will arrive in Iqaluit this summer, with construction expected to start in the spring of 2014 with completion by the end of 2017.

The GN would make payments on the new airport complex for 30 years and assume ownership after that period, likely around 2047.

The winning group comprises these firms:

InfraRed Capital Partners Ltd. — an international investment banking firm that specializes in big infrastructure and real estate projects. They’ll put up most of the cash to finance construction of the new airport complex.

Bouygues Building Canada Inc. — Based in Montreal, Bouygues Building Canada is a Canadian subsidiary of a French multinational construction firm called Bouygues Bâtiment International. They’ll design and build the project. Another Bouygues subsidiary is a company called Sintra. At hearings held recently by the Charbonneau commission in Quebec, Sintra gained unwelcome publicity when a witness alleged the company was part of an asphalt cartel.

Colas Canada Inc. — A subsidiary of Bouyges that specializes in road construction and transportation infrastructure.

The Winnipeg Airports Authority — A “community-owned” entity that runs Winnipeg’s James Armstrong Richardson International Airport. The GN describes them as the “service provider.”

To help pay the cost of the Iqaluit airport, a federal agency called the P3 Canada Fund will give Nunavut $77.3 million.

“P3” is an abbreviation that stands for “PPP” or “public private partnership.”

Governments usually use P3 schemes to pay for big building projects they can’t afford to build on their own.

To help provide advice on how to manage the project, the GN is using an agency called Partnerships B.C., which is owned by the Government of British Columbia.

The GN says they’re also using a “fairness” advisor, B.C. lawyer Jane Shackell, to monitor the bid selection process.

Under the Iqaluit airport scheme, the GN will make payments to the airport operator for 30 years. At the end of that period, ownership and control of the Iqaluit airport would revert to the GN.

The construction project would include the following:

• a new airport terminal building that’s four times bigger than the current terminal, with two revolving luggage belts, new holding spaces for passengers, a restaurant, coffee shop and souvenir shop;

• expanded parking aprons for aircraft;

• a new “combined services” building that would house airport firefighting vehicles and heavy equipment for runway maintenance;

• extensive runway paving and re-paving;

• new lighting systems.

The current airport terminal building would continue to house Nav Canada, flight services functions, and the Iqaluit airport administrative offices.

(More to follow)

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