Fence to Nowhere gets go-ahead


The city of Iqaluit hopes not to repeat the same mistakes made by Hall Beach when it comes to snow fencing.

“They managed to inadvertently bury a number of homes,” said Mark Hall, the city of Iqaluit’s director of public works, during a committee of the whole discussion on plans to erect a snow fence around the Road to Nowhere subdivision.

City council voted on Nov. 22 to approve spending $50,000 on a fence to protect the snowbound subdivision, pending legal approval. The city is consulting with lawyers in Yellowknife to find out what liability issues might exist, said chief administrative officer Ian Fremantle.

That fence would be a one-year “experiment,” built from a combination of orange plastic netting and wooden slats.

In a worst-case scenario, a poorly-placed snow fence can funnel snow towards the homes it’s intended to protect. That’s what happened in Hall Beach, according to a snow fence consultant the city has been in talks with.

“There’s the possibility of failure,” Hall said at a committee of the whole meeting, adding he hopes Iqaluit can learn from past mistakes.

The proposed fence would be 16 feet tall, supported by posts driven into the tundra every 20 feet. It might sound high, but it’s designed with the hilly tundra in mind, Hall said.

The fence will be built about 200-250 feet behind properties in question. But it could eventually expand to several other areas, such as the stretch of Apex road across from the Arctic Winter Games arena, and along sections of the Road to Nowhere itself.

Residents could also see a snow berm built on Lake Geraldine. If this happens, a contingency plan would be developed to deal with possible oil spills before heavy equipment is moved on the lake, which is the city’s source of potable water.

The complete project will likely require more cash, said the city’s chief administrative officer, Ian Fremantle. He estimated $50,000 could only cover about 50 posts, or 1,000 feet of fencing.

“We’ll exceed $50,000, but we won’t exceed it before coming to the city,” Fremantle said.

And because there’s no space to dump snow in the area, heavy equipment will have to move the drifts that accumulate over the winter, Fremantle said.

The city plans to give notice to residents living the area, as well as make public announcements to prevent snowmobilers from driving through the fence.

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