Makivik gets $1 million for phones, infrastructure

Feds fund study for new breakwater


Makivik Corp.’s coffers got a boost June 11 when Denis Lebel, the federal minister of state for economic development, handed over a cheque in Kuujjuaq for $1,032,858 for cell phones and marine infrastructure projects.

Of this amount, $271, 784 goes as a repayable loan towards Nunatel, Makivik’s subsidiary for cellular phone service in Nunavik ,and $200,079 pays for environmental engineering and impact studies for a new breakwater in Kuujjuaraapik.

“This type of facility is a cornerstone of the local economy— it facilitates the supply of goods and docking of Nordic cruise ships, vital to furthering tourism development,” says a government news release about Kuujjuaraapik’s breakwater.

“Ensuring the prosperity of communities is a priority for the Government of Canada. To that end, we are proud to support projects that improve living conditions and the economic outlook in remote communities. In this case, Makivik Corporation’s two initiatives will make an important contribution to stimulating job creation in Nord-du-Québec Inuit communities,” Lebel said.

Kuujjuaraapik’s marine infrastructure project is the second part of dock construction in the community, part of a $88-million regional project that has put docks, wharves an access ramps throughout Nunavik since 1999.

These small craft harbour facilities would be the envy of most Nunavut communities, but in Nunavik they’re even being improved.

This year in Kuujjuaq, the marine infrastructure is undergoing a major overhaul, with the construction of new protected areas or fuel delivery and sealift operators, repair of the main breakwater, increased service area and a new access road.

Delegates at Makivik’s annual general meeting this past spring in Kangiqsualujjuaq from a number of Nunavik communities also said they have incomplete facilities, which they’d like to see finished.

For example, in Tasiujaq— known for its tides— and in Kangiqsualujjuaq boats can’t offload during low tide.

“We can’t offload our canoes because (the port) doesn’t reach the low tide,” said Willie Annanack, a Makivik board member for Kangiqsualujjuaq. “We have to wait four hours before we can use the port.”

Umiujaq needs more lighting around their marine area; the only lighting there now is solar panels.

“It seems Makivik did not complete their work,” Louisa Tookalook, an Umiujaq board member, said at the time.

But Makivik president Pita Aatami said environmental regulations have slowed construction.

“There are so many environmental impact studies required,” Aatami said. “We can’t just go ahead and build.”

A presentation during the recent Kativik Regional Government meeting in Akulivik, Eileen Klinkig, special projects manager in Makivik’s construction division, defended the docks and wharves built across the region, saying they were built for safety, sealifts and economic development.

“Nothing is perfect. This is the ocean, we have winds and tides,” she said.

The KRG looks after the maintenance of the marine infrastructures, under a three-year $600,000 agreement with Quebec, which ends next March.

A document circulated at the KRG meeting suggests Quebec not happy that federal government hasn’t agreed to pay its share of the ongoing maintenance costs.

But the Department of Fisheries is more concerned about how changing environmental conditions, such as rising sea levels, storm surges and a loss of shorefast ice will affect small craft harbours, and plans a review of all 1,000 harbours across the country.

Meanwhile, Nunavut is still waiting for small craft harbours throughout the territory.

Transport Minister Peter Taptuna said in the Nunavut legislature this month that with the $500,000 earmarked for docks in its budget, the Government of Nunavut can’t build any docks.

“In Pond Inlet, we’re doing the preliminary design work at this time for this year, 2010, and the feasibility study. We’re doing the preliminary design work for 2010 for the Arviat breakwater and dock. In Rankin Inlet, we’re undertaking a feasibility study this year, the same for Cambridge Bay, a feasibility study,” Taptuna said. “The amount of funding that we get is just insignificant to build a dock.”

The GN is trying to leverage more money from Ottawa, saying “economic benefits through infrastructure building is part of Nunavut and sovereignty.”

But the costs are much higher to build in Nunavut than in Nunavik — an estimated $15 to $20 million for “proper” docking facilities in Qikiqtarjuaq, Taptuna said.

With files from Sarah Rogers

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