Apex cemetery closed to fix flooding issues

The City of Iqaluit hired a company to raise the grounds of the cemetery

Heavy construction equipment is being used to improve the drainage of Apex cemetery. (Photo by Mélanie Ritchot)

By David Lochead

The City of Iqaluit is closing the Apex cemetery for a month and a half to fix drainage problems that have plagued the site for years.

Water from high areas tends to pool on the cemetery, which is located on low-lying land. The problem can make visitations and burials difficult because the ground is too soft.

The city plans to raise the ground level of the cemetery and set up a drainage system that will force water to flow down to the ditches, according to city spokesperson Ainiak Korgak.

The work started Wednesday.

“It’s not just the public that are concerned, we have concerns as managers of the cemetery,” said Korgak.

Built in 2013, Apex cemetery has struggled with drainage issues since it opened. Flooding has led to residents complaining about the safety of the cemetery in the past, with one member of the community calling the area a sinkhole.

In 2015, then-mayor Mary Wilman apologized about the cemetery’s soggy conditions. One year later, then-mayor Madeleine Redfern said councillors needed to be aware about the issue.

Perhaps ironically, the Apex cemetery won a National Award of Excellence from the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects for its bowhead whalebone arches and view of Tarr Inlet.

Weather is challenging the start date of the project, with consistent rainy days making it difficult for the construction crew to work or bring machinery onto the wet ground, says Korgak.

Korgak says the city will make sure construction stops during burial ceremonies, and construction done near graves will be completed carefully using hand tools.

Items that had been placed on graves were asked to be removed by July 26. Any items that remained have been removed for construction but can be returned once the project is finished, said Korgak.

The city has hired Tower Arctic Ltd. to do the work and construction is slated to end in mid-September.

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(4) Comments:

  1. Posted by Rest it on

    This part of Apex is original marshy terrain. It’s still flat and it’s not going to change. Any one will tell you not to put a cemetery there. That was the same with the Arctic Winter Games arena. Just because the aesthetics and design (the whale bone arches and rocks on the perimeter) were considered pleasing to the eye of landscape artists it didn’t mean you had to keep the cemetery there. Move it. By putting money into won’t change it.

    • Posted by Sticky on

      The city has to commit to the Apex location because it was their second choice. They had chosen Road To Nowhere, where the park area is now, and they paid to do the landscaping and everything. But they didn’t do their due diligence before starting the project and lo and behold, it was too rocky to use for a cemetery. So they lost time and money. So they had to double down after they realized the Apex location was terrible and always will be.

    • Posted by Owlhavethat on

      Pretty certain the City did subsurface testing at intial RTN site, across the road from Telesat on Apex Rd and at current site in Apex. Regardless of where you build it, if you never maintain an excavation after you backfill it, this is the result. Overtime you will perpetuate the situation, hence what they have now.

    • Posted by Sand Builder on

      Sadly the same problem that is visible with the new road right by the cemetery that is now like a roller coaster with its ups and downs. Lower Iqaluit is all built on sand and visibly it is affecting buildings. C and K has buildings sinking in the sand, Northview, TNPG, are all struggling with damage from what water does to sand.

      “The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it didn’t fall, for it was founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine, and doesn’t do them will be like a foolish man, who built his house on the sand. ” Knowledge from hundreds of years ago, yet architects/builders still continue to drill holes in sand to put piles in.

      The surround sand shifts with the seasons and the thaw and freeze. Its cheaper to tear down the buildings that have damage then to properly engineer them to be build on a shifting surface, there are lots of alternative to drilling piles.

      It was in poor taste to bury people in such conditions, thankfully they are trying to rectify the situation.


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