Construction on Iqaluit’s small-craft harbour, deep-sea port starts in July

“You have to crack an egg to make an omelette”

By COURTNEY EDGAR

Residents of Iqaluit met last Thursday evening at the Anglican Parish Hall to hear about the final construction plans for the small-craft harbour and deep-sea port. The presentation included detailed blueprints, a rough schedule, job opportunities and safety procedures for the large-scale construction project that will run from mid-July until November. (PHOTO BY COURTNEY EDGAR)


Residents of Iqaluit met last Thursday evening at the Anglican Parish Hall to hear about the final construction plans for the small-craft harbour and deep-sea port. The presentation included detailed blueprints, a rough schedule, job opportunities and safety procedures for the large-scale construction project that will run from mid-July until November. (PHOTO BY COURTNEY EDGAR)

(Updated June 28, 8:15 a.m.)

Let the dredging and drilling begin.

After 20 years of asking and waiting, Iqaluit residents are finally getting their new small-craft harbour and deep-sea port. The project’s schedule, announced at an information session on Thursday, June 14, will begin mid-July. The small-craft harbour should be completed by the end of November this year. The deep-sea port should be completed by the end of November 2019.

Tower Arctic Ltd., an Inuit-owned heavy construction company operating in the North since 1946, will take on the project.

And the company wants the city to know they are “raising their hand and asking for help in the building process.”

Tower Arctic has jobs available for truck drivers, nautical assistants, environmental monitoring specialists and general labourers. Its goal: to have local residents make up at least 15 per cent of the workforce.

“If we can have more, we will be very happy about that,” Marc Lavoie, project manager at Tower Arctic, said at an information session held on Thursday night. “We want to involve local labour as much as possible on this project.”

The port will be built at the southwestern tip of Koojesse Inlet, near the end of the fuel line where seafaring tankers supply the city. The small-craft harbour will be on the eastern bank of the bay, where the existing municipal breakwater will be extended by roughly 100 metres.

Construction is set to start July 15. Blasting will take place once or twice a day, but the noise should be minimal for most residents because the site is quite far from the city, said Lavoie.

The first step involves dredging the seabed for one month, as well as beginning to build the deep-sea port structure.

Then workers will concentrate on the access road from July 19 until Aug. 1 and on the causeway between July 27 and Aug. 10.

Work on the small-craft harbour will start on or around Oct. 11. The construction of that structure should be finished by Nov. 18, with demobilization planned for Nov. 29, Lavoie said.

At 430 metres long, the deep-sea port will allow all-tide access for ocean-going vessels. Fuel tankers will also be able to offload at the dock where there will be a new fuel line, along with the existing fuel line.

“It’s really important that at any time we work in safe conditions,” Lavoie said.

For that reason, a one- to two-hour time slot will be scheduled each day for the blasting. During that time, workers will need the area vacated. Warning signs will be posted, and the blasting times will be available at the company’s website.

A safe corridor will be maintained from the public road to the boat launch of the small-craft harbour. So, most of the dust, noise or traffic should be concentrated near the deep-sea port, Tower Arctic representatives said.

“You have to crack an egg to make an omelette,” said Simon Goulet, project director at Tower Arctic, in reference to possible disturbances.

Public concerns have been raised in recent months about plans to tear down or relocate shacks along the Iqaluit waterfront near the site of the small-craft harbour.

At the information session, several residents asked what will happen to the people who fish and go down to that area during low tide.

“The fishermen don’t go by time, they go by tide,” a resident said, explaining it will be difficult to “police” when people go to the area.

Some people who get by on social assistance and subsistence fishing live in those shacks.

Another Iqaluit resident asked if the shack-dwellers along the beach will be compensated for the fact that they survive through their fishing and may need to have their home destroyed or relocated for this construction project.

Jodi Durdle-Awa, director of policy for Nunavut’s Department of Community and Government Services, told Nunatsiaq News that a series of public consultations have been held, beginning with a meeting involving the Amaruq Hunters and Trappers Association in June 2016.

Since then, there have been six formal meetings with the HTA, and three public open-house meetings with Iqaluit residents to discuss the project, said Durdle-Awa.

In May 2017, CGS also consulted a group of shoreline residents and held a meeting with local boaters.

“During the various meetings … the project team was informed of the importance of the beach shacks for people to store their boating equipment and hunting and camping gear,” Durdle-Awa wrote in an email.

“As a result, it was decided that shack owners would need to be compensated for the removal of their shack. During the consultations, CGS was not informed that there was anybody living in any of the shacks within the area of the small craft harbour.”

CGS also conducted a survey of the shacks within the area of the small-craft harbour in the summer of 2017, and, Durdle-Awa says, they did not find that any of the shacks were being lived in at the time.

It is unclear if that is still the case a year later.

The department has identified 41 shacks and, to date, the owners of 38 of them have been contacted.

At the beginning of May 2018, CGS started to contact shack owners to give them fact sheets about compensation. They also attached notices to each shack to inform the owners that it would need to be removed and that they should contact CGS to discuss their compensation options.

Removal of the shacks will begin sometime after July 31, said Durdle-Awa.

Correction: Incorrect information about the scheduled completion dates for the small-craft harbour and the deep-sea port appeared in an earlier version of this story.

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