Metal-squeezing monster makes short work of tons of rusty junk

Crunch time for a prettier Iqaluit


A big, rusty machine belching black diesel smoke into the air may be the key to a better-looking Iqaluit.

The monstrous 29,000-kilogram hydraulic press, owned by Gestion Logistique of Quebec, will feed this summer on a steady diet of old cars, washing machines, skidoos and other scrap metal.

It's the first time the City of Iqaluit has had a way to remove broken-down cars and appliances, many of which litter yards around the city.

"We're finally going to get rid of our junk," said Coun. Claude Martel, during an event held to mark the start of the program at the city dump.

Paul Okalik, the premier, and Elisapee Sheutiapik, the mayor, took turns squashing vans, cars, stoves and fuel tanks into giant, rectangular metal pancakes.

Gratien Croteau of Gestion Logistique proved himself a master of the forklift, flipping over cars and sifting through piles of scrap to find just the right object for the politicians to crush.

In about 10 seconds, the giant machine squashes a white cube van into a metal pancake less than a metre high.

"It's scary," Okalik said of the experience.

"Incredible," Sheutiapik said, grinning from ear to ear. "I felt so powerful."

For years it's been technically illegal to keep old, broken-down cars and other metal waste in your front yard. But the city could never enforce the bylaw because there was nowhere to dispose of the stuff.

Now, city crews will pick up waste metal from residences for free. Businesses can also get rid of their metal, although they're responsible for transporting it to a makeshift depot that's appeared on the West 40 road.

Residents or businesses that don't make arrangements to have their old metal disposed of face fines of $500 for individuals and $5,000 for companies.

"We'll pick it up for nothing, so there's no reason [for residents] not to," Martel said.

The city's paying $1 to Gestion Logistique, while the Government of Nunavut is chipping in the $100,000 cost of shipping the crusher and other related equipment up on a sealift ship.

Lydia-Jade Rouleau of Gestion Logistique said the crushed metal will go to Montreal and be separated.

"It's all processed and separated and sorted with magnets," she said through translation by Gabe Gagnier, the city's public works director. "Probably a lot of it [the metal] will be going to China."

Gagnier said it's probably going to take crews a month to clear the city of scrap metal, with three dump trucks and a loader hauling material. He said it's likely going to take more than two summers to crush everything and haul it back south on empty sealift ships.

To arrange for pickup of your old vehicles or appliances, call Steve Iyago at 979-5653.

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