Williams wants consultation before design on new marine facility

Councillor's 'spidey sense' tingling over port


When Nunavut's director of transportation policy and planning John Hawkins told Iqaluit city council his government was being pressed to create a new harbour facility in Iqaluit by March 31, 2011, alarm bells went off for Coun. Glenn Williams.

"My spidey senses tingle when I hear there is a tight timeline," he told Hawkins. "I think of the Arctic Winter Games Arena."

That was a similar scenario, Williams said. There was pressure to act quickly in order to access federal money.

And now the city is looking at a $2 million price tag to try to fix a poorly engineered project from under which the floor has literally dropped.

Hawkins appeared at council to discuss the marine project in response to requests from council after preliminary meetings that included federal, territorial and city staff.

He told council the time pressure is the result of the federal government's stimulus response to the current economic slump. "They want something quick," he said.

"And we all know the last sealift boat didn't make it in at the end of last year. So we have a very large capacity issue."

At an Ottawa meeting in March that included marine carriers, Transport Canada told the Government of Nunavut it was ready to spend money if the GN could come up with a concept to redevelop the old causeway on the other side of Koojesse Inlet.

Williams assured Hawkins of the city's interest and general support for the project.

But he and other councillors took issue with the GN's proposal to have engineers quickly produce a conceptual design for how the causeway could be developed for both offloading sealift barges and for launching and loading small craft used by hunters, fishers and families.

Williams warned that the land-use permitting process, and the obligations for impact review under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, would probably make it impossible to develop the facility as quickly as the GN is proposing.

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