“It is pristine and high quality water.”

Cemetery poses danger to river, Little warns



An Iqaluit city councillor is urging staff to reconsider the site of a new cemetery near the Apex River, saying the stream could serve as a source of potable water in the future.

Coun. Jim Little is worried that decomposing bodies in the new graveyard would leach embalming chemicals into the river.

But with scientists predicting possible future water shortages from the Lake Geraldine watershed if climate change causes faster snow melts, Little said city officials should view Apex River as a backup water supply.

"It is pristine and it is high quality water," Little told council August 12. "We could tap into that at our leisure."

In February, council approved the construction of a new cemetery off the Road To Nowhere, about one kilometre outside of town.

Supporters of the site, including councillors Glenn Williams and Simon Nattaq, say it's tranquil and will give mourners a peaceful place to grieve.

Michele Bertol, the city's director of planning and lands, said in an interview that she's called a committee of the whole meeting for Sept. 2 where Little will get a chance to outline his concerns in greater detail.

"I put that on the agenda so [councillors] have an opportunity to hear him and discuss his views and either tell me ‘we're staying with our original decision' or ‘we would like to change our mind,'" Bertol said.

Little wasn't available for an interview this past Monday.

Bertol said there's been no tender issued for the project yet. The cemetery's design could go ahead this summer with construction starting next year, but that won't happen until city council gives the go-ahead, she said.

Officials expect the new cemetery's design to cost $60,000, with construction costing $150,000.

The old cemetery in Lower Iqaluit is nearing capacity and the Road To Nowhere site is the latest attempt by the city to find a replacement.

An earlier replacement proposed for the West 40 area was scuppered after test pits filled with water.

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