City of Iqaluit using unsafe methods, unsafe drivers?


I was shocked to hear that yet another good Iqaluit citizen has been killed because safety was not made a priority.

The city’s lack of knowledge concerning not only the paving of the roads, but also their lack of knowledge on how to best maintain them, has brought heavy equipment into the lives of innocent bystanders who should never be exposed to these dangerous situations.

The most recent loader accident involved doing the same thing – trying to fill potholes. The job is best done by a grader, and even that’s not yet the best solution.

The ground is best prepared after grading by wetting the surface with a water truck spray and then using a step-drum vibrator packer to anchor the dirt into the hole itself, so that the dirt is not spun out by vehicles trying to gain traction on an already over-taxed roadbed surface.

The idea that the city of Iqaluit would rather use blood to fill potholes is shocking and mortifying. Margaret Jeffrey deserved more than a back-up alarm, which is well-known to fail in our climate conditions. They are continuously in need of maintenance due to poor grounding caused by dirt and water. The front-end loader is built to push, lift and load aggregate, not resurface the road, which is supposed to have a curved crown to prevent pot-holes and encourage water runoff.

There are the usual questions of licensed operators with a certificate to operate a loader, grader or even an excavator, and a course has been running at Aurora College in Fort Smith for 15 years. Operators from all over the Nunavut and the NWT are required to take the course for licensing. It’s not just a third-class trucker’s license.

Every vehicle poses unique dangers, dead-sight zones, where the operator cannot see, braking and proper signaling before movement. In this case, a spotter was required, a must, and not a question of cost to the taxpayers.

The footprint of a large piece of equipment is not for the narrow hilly roads of Iqaluit. When backing up, the horn should be sounded for all city vehicles first and not just rely on a beeper.

Large tires roll quicker than a car’s, with faster momentum and proper maintenance of brakes is a must.

I am sad to report that, to date, the entire apprenticeship council and the Government of Nunavut have failed to address my past letters as to why they don’t require all automotive and heavy equipment mechanics to have either a Nunavut or Canadian interprovincal license, as is the case here in Alberta, to work on vehicles to which not only our children are exposed, but also our adults.

The mechanics can be anyone. Quebec doesn’t even have a license recognized in the rest of Canada. The times of day when heavy vehicles are used should also not be the peak periods of the day, 3 p.m. when the operator is getting tired. The public is tired also and children are out of school rushing to get home.

We will see more accidents if something isn’t done. We see the kids run across the roads every day.

In conclusion, we are not likely to see all equipment towed to the job-site as in the South, so the city should close off areas of risk and educate the young early about such vehicles in school and not sit around drinking coffee or waiting for retirement.

Indeed we haven’t heard the end of this story. Are you the next victim?

John Bray

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