Are Iqalungmiut invisible?


Do the people who belong to Iqaluit’s current town council and work for the Town’s administration all have vision problems? Including the ones who don’t have to wear glasses?

After observing how they’ve managed to completely ignore Iqaluit residents in planning for Nunavut’s capital infrastructure, you’d be forgiven for thinking so ­ because they’re now acting as if Iqaluit’s 4,000 people are totally invisible.

It wasn’t that way in 1995 when the Iqaluit-for capital-committee spent tens of thousands of dollars hustling us for our votes on plebiscite day. But after luring us inside the polling stations to romance us into voting Yes for Iqaluit, our fickle suitors in municipal government now appear to have abandoned us.

After years of listening to noisy declamations about what a great capital Iqaluit might make, the people who actually live in Nunavut’s capital are now being treated as if they don’t even exist.

That’s too bad. There are many community members who could have called attention to the municipal planning disaster that the brainiacs working for Ottawa and Iqaluit appear to have cooked up for us.

At a council committee meeting on Wednesday, July 2 town councillors will look at options for locating new Nunavut government buildings on sites within Iqaluit.

The option that the anonymous bureaucrats seem to favor is one that would dump a cluster of new Nunavut government office buildings ­ some perhaps as large as the Browne building ­ onto Iqaluit’s busiest corner.

That’s where the Ring Road crosses the Airport Road ­ the juncture whose four corners are now occupied by the Kamotiq Inn, the old HTA building, the old T-1 building and the Parnaivik building.

If that plan is carried out, scores, and perhaps hundreds of Nunavut government employees will all be forced to drive to the same small area, every day.

If that plan is carried out, Iqaluit will have made the same disastrous mistake that much larger cities have made all over the world. That mistake is to separate the places where people live from the places where people work.

The sprawling suburban-style development of Happy Valley and the new Apex Road subdivisions ­ which have eaten up many acres of land between Iqaluit and Apex ­ are already leading Iqaluit into that mistake. Because they live so far away from where they must work, shop and obtain other services, residents of those areas have no choice but to get into their cars and drive.

Fifteen or 20 years ago, there were relatively few privately-owned motor vehicles in Iqaluit. But now most adult residents seem to own at least one car or truck. And scores of new cars and trucks arrive every summer on the sealift.

More car owners equals more traffic. More traffic means more wear and tear on Iqaluit’s rapidly deteriorating road system, and more traffic means more noise, dust and eventually, more air pollution. More traffic equals more danger for pedestrians ­ especially children and elders ­ who have no sidewalks to walk on anywhere.

Under the four corners proposal, the bureaucrats working for Ottawa and Iqaluit don’t even seem to have considered where all those new Nunavut government employees will park all those new vehicles they’ll need to get to work, let alone how Iqaluit’s long-suffering pedestrians will protect themselves from being run over.

As the government that’s responsible for municipal planning in Iqaluit, the Town should have made a major effort to consult the community about Nunavut infrastructure issues a long, long time ago.

Instead they’ve been arbitrarily ­ and quietly ­ working out their own deal with Ottawa’s bureaucrats behind our backs.

Those who have lived in Iqaluit for all or most of their lives will remember the last time Ottawa dumped a bunch of buildings into the community without talking to Iqalungmiut first. That resulted in the mouldering eyesore known as the Astro Hill complex ­ which since 1970 has stood as a living example of how not to build in the Arctic.

Now, Ottawa wants to dump another bunch of buildings into Iqaluit. The difference is that we now have an elected body whose job it is to make sure that planning disasters like the Astro Hill complex aren’t repeated.

So far, the only work the Town of Iqaluit has done on our behalf is to ask Ottawa how high to jump. It’s now up to the people of Iqaluit to make them do better.

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