City of Iqaluit washes hands of asbestos 5

No one wants to claim ownership of polluted dump site



This land is not our land.

That’s the message that city of Iqaluit officials want to drive home to other levels of government when it comes to North 40, Iqaluit’s abandoned metal dump and its source of gravel.

City council decided on Nov. 22 they would not spend any more of taxpayers’ money dealing with contaminants at the site. They want the federal and territorial governments to step in.

Hundreds of bags of asbestos are buried beneath tarps and dirt at the site. Their discovery prompted the site’s closing several times last year.

Petroleum also seeps from the banks, gathering in a berm built by the city. And traces of heavy metals have been found in the site.

These contaminants could pose health risks to city staff, contractors and the public, according to a city document tabled at a recent public works meeting. It recommends the site not be used until “substantial remediation works” are undertaken.

Iqaluit, the Government of Nunavut and the federal government all dispute who owns North 40, likely because no one wants to take on the hefty price tag of cleaning it up.

Ownership of the site changed hands from the federal government to the territory during a land transfer in the 1970s. In 1997 the city signed a quarry management agreement to administer the site for 10 years.

But city officials have always maintained that managing a site isn’t the same as owning it, or being responsible for cleaning up a mess left by others.

The city’s committee of a whole first passed a motion on Nov. 21 recommending that council make this position official.

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