Craft fair a “disaster waiting to happen”


Nunavut Fire Marshall Gerald Pickett had harsh words for members of the IDEA after visiting Inuksuk High School last week in relation to a fire in the upstairs boys’ washroom.

He said he cannot allow the school to host the annual Christmas craft fair because the event has simply grown too big for the space.

During the craft fair, which takes place on the last Saturday in November, every room is at three or four times its maximum capacity and every hallway and exit is blocked by tables and chairs.

In a letter to the IDEA, Pickett said that during a previous craft fair, a patient had to be carried from the school to an ambulance that was forced to park on the street – because there wasn’t any room near the building.

“I don’t want to be melodramatic, but it has been a disaster waiting to happen,” said David Lloyd, assistant principal at the high school.

“If we have a power outage up there, someone’s going to get trampled to death,” said Principal Terry Young.

However, IDEA members voted to ask the craft fair committee to find alternative plans – not because of the fire marshall’s concerns, but to protect the gym floor.

“I have sat on four DEAs and I’m always hearing about those damn gym floors, and they’re always more important than people,” said Caroline Anawak, who abstained from the vote.

“This [the craft fair] is economic development for an important segment of the town,” she said. But of the fire marshall’s directive, she said, “that’s inarguable.”

“The reason we’re in this discussion is the fire chief came and he said, ‘If you don’t shut it down, I’ll shut it down,'” Young said.

Members of the IDEA voted to offer the craft fair committee use of the cafeteria and tisi area of the high school, plus the gyms at Nakasuk School and Aqsarniik Middle School, which do not have specialized floors.

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