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The road to somewhere?


It was never meant to be a “road to nowhere.” Its original function was to provide gravel and fill for construction projects and roads, and especially for access to a beautiful recreational area.

As mayor, I decided to build the road. That was my last term as mayor. The road was to go as far as the top of the highest ridge, approximately one and a half miles.

At that point there are some lovely quiet places for people to drive to and gain access to areas for recreation, picnics, Sunday drives and camping.

More importantly there are the two beautiful lakes. These long, perfect lakes would serve for swimming, boating and even windsurfing.

The lakes would also serve as perfect landing facilities for seaplanes. Iqaluit is one of the few areas in the Baffin where seaplanes are not practical. Salt water is not a safe or an ideal environment for metal aircraft.

These lakes would have become major assets for the new up-and-coming mining industry activity in this region. Most mining prospecting begins with small, cheap-to-operate airplanes. With no lakes suitable to land, the whole business becomes too expensive.

The council that came after me did not continue with the completion of the road.

Many years ago, Weldy Phillips, that famous northern flyer, the man who invented balloon tires on Twin Otters, landed on Lake Geraldine, the city water supply lake. It was a very daring stunt for which he was reprimanded.

And before there was an airport in Nuuk, Greenland, he landed on a main road in the downtown area of the city.

The next and saddest chapter concerning the road came when the idiots sitting on a council after me refused to allow Nav Canada to build an important radar navigation aid on top of the ridge in question, it being the highest point in the area.

The council did not like the idea because such a facility would interfere with the blueberry picking activities of some local women.

The net result of that was that Nav Canada scrapped their plans for that project. The plan included finishing the road and running power lines all the way to the unit. Their budget was in excess of $11 million.

That council decision was as stupid as the one denying Northern Properties the right to buy and build on what was then Jean-Guy Degrasse’s lot. [Editor’s note: this is the lot now occupied by the Nova Inn.]

The most foolish scheme so far for the road is for the new graveyard. The city, desperate to resolve this issue, hired the costly services of a southern consultant to design a new graveyard. Not willing to deal with the company who have acted as undertakers for the past 15 years, they went ahead with this nutty scheme.

The site chosen is more than six kilometres from town. It will require snow removal all winter long. Bus services for mourners, who will pay for that? The planning company even suggested that each grave be marked with a boulder and the name of the occupant carved on the stone by local Inuit carvers.

Now, after spending a fortune, this idiotic establishment has discovered that the area chosen is too rocky and unsuitable. It will take a long time to happen, but eventually the rotting bodies will contaminate the waters of the Apex River from which many people obtain marvelous fresh water for their tea.

For many years, that area that formed a picturesque valley through which the river runs to the left of the Apex Road heading to Apex was considered an excellent site for the future growth of the community. Such a site could be planned with care and developed into a beautiful satellite suburb of this city.

It has all the main attributes. A river runs through it, it has southern exposure, it’s accessible, and more importantly, it is away from the dreadful, ugly city that Iqaluit has become.

Green areas turned over to ramshackle buildings. Disgusting sea-cans littering every area of the community, some of the ugliest buildings ever created sited in the downtown core with total disregard for basic town planning rules and regulations, greed being one of the main factors for development. A city unwilling to impose discipline on three developers.

A huge, three-storey apartment building smack in the centre of what should be reserved for future commercial space that will rapidly become another slum. Furthermore, the site was not landscaped.

It is a mess just like all the other huge buildings in town that sit in sand and gravel. No developer should be allowed to build any structure unless it is landscaped, paved or flagged to comply with the aesthetics and appearance of the city.

The Plateau is another planning disaster, a mishmash of structures. Huge apartment buildings perched on pipes that are unstable. Each one competing with the other for some sort of view.

Only one condominium shows any real effort to make it attractive. That unit is nicely designed, clean, paved and more importantly has a proper ditch for spring-time runoff, something that this city has never managed to achieve.

And now with these strange wooden posts and rocks lining the roads, ditching will be impossible. Unless water is carried away in ditches it will continue to wash out roads as it does each and every year, costing taxpayers a bundle.

For years many long-term residents of Iqaluit have tried in vain to beautify this community. However, the road crews with their huge machines have managed to scrape away every last bit of vegetation from the verges of the Apex and many other roads in town.

Iqaluit once had a chance to do it property. That opportunity seems to have vanished. Leadership is lacking.

The mayor, for example, has more important things to do with her other job. The council is not taking its role seriously. It gives in to foolish ideas, for example, to stop burning garbage.

Now there are hundreds of thousands of tonnes of garbage sitting in a frozen lump that will be there for generations unless a major effort to deal with it is made.

There are those who feel now that perhaps Rankin Inlet should have become the capital of Nunavut. They might have handed this huge responsibility in a more sensible way.

Bryan Pearson

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