New Iqaluit cemetery arises from the dead
Mayor casts tie-breaking vote
Iqaluit City Council voted by a razor-thin margin July 21 to approve emergency funding to complete the first phase of the troubled new cemetery on the Road to Nowhere.
With four councillors in favour and four against at a meeting July 21, it was the fourth time in her six years as mayor that Elisapee Sheutiapik had to break a tie.
At an emergency meeting July 12, city planner Michele Bertol had asked the council to approve and additional $108,000 for the project because construction crews had encountered terrain far more rocky than a preliminary evaluation in 2003 had suggested.
Bertol said the first phase of the cemetery would likely hold roughly 140 graves, fewer than 400 or so that were originally planned.
The debate at the July 12 meeting was emotional at times, and some councillors obliquely called Bertol’s competence into question over the unexpected difficulties of the project at its late stage.
The council at the time voted unanimously to stop work until their next meeting when they would decide what to do next.
Bertol said that despite the unexpected cost and fewer burial plots, continuing the project was still the city’s most cost-effective option.
Otherwise the city would have to start from scratch in selecting a new site, a process which could take years. Meanwhile, the old Lower Iqaluit cemetery is already critically full.
When the vote came on July 21, there was no debate and no questions, much to Bertol’s surprise.
In addition to Sheutiapik’s tiebreaker, councillors Romeyn Stevenson, Simon Nattaq, Mat Knickelbein and Mary Akpalialuk voted in favour of the new cemetery’s continuation.
Councillors Jimmy Kilabuk, Mary Wilman, David Ell and Natsiq Alainga-Kango voted against the motion
Before this additional $108,000, the cemetery project was under budget. With the additional spending it is now $54,000 over budget.