Idlout calls for $180M from feds to fix Iqaluit water problems

City says another ‘small contamination event’ occurred at water treatment plant Wednesday

Nunavut MP Lori Idlout, seen here in a file photo from September, has called on the federal Infrastructure and Communities Minister Dominic LeBlanc to allocate $180 million to fix Iqaluit’s water problems. (File photo by David Venn)

By Nunatsiaq News

Nunavut MP Lori Idlout is calling for $180 million from the federal government to “end the water emergency in Iqaluit.”

The government should “fix an issue of basic human rights … as the federal government would for any other major Canadian city,” Idlout wrote in a Friday letter to federal Infrastructure and Communities Minister Dominic LeBlanc.

Idlout didn’t say exactly what the money would be used for, but mentioned Mayor Kenny Bell’s recent statements that the city needs a new water source and treatment plant.

Iqaluit has been under a boil water advisory since Wednesday, when the city began bypassing its water treatment plant because of the recent discovery of more fuel contamination.

Between October and December last year, Iqaluit was under a state of emergency and a Government of Nunavut-issued do-not-consume order after diesel fuel was discovered in the city’s water supply.

Some consequences of Iqaluit’s ongoing water contamination issues include delayed hospital surgeries and disruptions to the delivery of groceries on board cargo flights, Idlout said. It’s also caused recreation centres to close and presented barriers to low-income residents to get clean water, she said.

On Friday, the City of Iqaluit announced in a news release that another “small contamination event” occurred at Iqaluit’s water treatment plant Wednesday morning.

City staff arrived in time to remove the contamination by flushing the reservoir before it got into the distribution pipes, according to the release, issued by spokesperson Geoff Byrne.

There’s no timeline for when the water treatment plant will be back online, Coun. Kyle Sheppard said in a Thursday interview.

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(42) Comments:

  1. Posted by Jurisdiction on

    Municipalities are the jurisdiction of the Territorial Government. The Territorial Government is handed billions of dollars annual by the taxpayers of Canada at large for what is essentially a population equivalent to a small town in anywhere Canada. Why should the Government of Canada and the rest of Canada pony up for this?
    The GN and its predecessor GNWT delegated municipal services to the City. The City is given money. Yet here we are. They used the money to increase the pay of councillors and to rent a new building at heavy expense, among probably two decades of bad choices and no accountability.
    What should happen is that those who have been and charge of this are held to account. They make hard sacrifices that are not twitter-worthy to the public, like makes cuts, deciding to stop handing millions of dollars to Canadian North or cutting back on other ridiculous expenses and programs and consider something called AUSTERITY.

    • Posted by hmmm on

      Nunavut = 20% of Canada. This is the cost of sovereignty!

      • Posted by Predictable and unimaginative on

        It’s really not though…

        • Posted by Grrr on

          The people of Iqaluit, and Nunavut in general ARE tax payers and contribute to the places of “anywhere Canada.” Why should Iqaluit be treated any differently? Grrr.

          • Posted by Math on

            Nunavut raises a fraction of its annual expenses from taxation. The rest is handed from Canada. Imagine the Government of Canada handing billions of dollars to Leamington Ontario and then the municipality having the audacity to demand $200 million to fix a problem it cannot even diagnose.

    • Posted by Uvanga on

      A very colonial comment most likely from an opposition party in Ottawa. Shameful

      • Posted by Jurisdiction on

        Uvunga if you actually think about it, a “colonial” perspective on this would be that Nunavut and Iqaluit need daddy Canada to step in and manage their affairs for them. So in a way, Idlout insisting that the classic “colonial” power step in and fix this regional issue is encouraging colonial approaches to this problem.
        I stand by what I said, why should Canadians be on the hook for such an egregious sum? I am myself a taxpayer and think the obvious course is for GN should borrow some money (we hear about its AAA credit rating enough from the Department of Finance) or maybe budget more appropriately (maybe not voluntarily spend 100,000,000 a year on medical travel). I won’t bother getting into the City since we all know how mismanaged it is and should just pray they manage to keep the lights on at the Aquatic Center.

        • Posted by You don’t understand the law…or colonialism on

          There’s legal limits to what the GN can borrow.

          Also, you’re confusing ‘colonialism’ with ‘paternalism’. Colonialism often involves paternalism, but at the end of the day colonialism is about exercising power and taking wealth away from people.

          Allowing a city to go without drinking water because “i’M A tAxpAyer” is definitely colonial.

          • Posted by My JD says otherwise on

            You seem to connote colonialism with “bad”. It is simplistic and really adds nothing to any discussion. This use of the term is quite tired, and only aims at evoking response and sensationalism. Critiquing City and Territorial governments for their handling of everything is not “colonial”.
            Your idea that Canada is “taking away” anything from Nunavummuit by not immediately agreeing to pay to fix a problem borne from decades of negligence and mismanagement of funds at a Territorial and/or Municipal level doesn’t hold water. Your other unsupported assertion that the GN cannot borrow any substantive funding or find it in its coffers or $2,500,000,000.00 budget lines over a few years is indicative of a lack of understanding at a basic level of how finance works.

      • Posted by John K on

        Get over yourself.

    • Posted by Uvanga on

      run for mayor…i will vote for you. Make sure that you respect Inuit though, our mayor is not very favorable to Inuit I hear. We need to start every meeting acknowledging that we are on Inuit territory, that’s how respect starts.

      • Posted by False on

        You should start every meeting acknowledging that you are living in Nunavut, a Territory of Canada. Start respecting Canadians (the country you live in) and you shall receive respect. What did your parents teach you about respect? Shame on all who are not Nunavummiut?

    • Posted by Mark M. Koroi on

      They have a pretty awesome administration building – you have to give them credit for their architectural tastes.

  2. Posted by Dazed and confused on

    They could address this issue with 10 million. 180 million, really? To those who are connected to the government’s inner circle, city insiders and No foresight… Jumping the gun.
    But that’s how the city and government workers operate leaving the general tax paying feeling…
    Dazed and confused.

  3. Posted by Mmmmhm on

    This week the mayor finally admitted that the contamination problem isn’t going away and the city also now needs a new water treatment plant. How much will that cost? Lori needs to amend her ask because it is going to a few hundred million dollars more on top of the $180 million. Waaaay more. I don’t think any of us should be surprised when the amended amount is closer to half a billion dollars.

  4. Posted by delbert on

    It’s great to make a statement like that, and the residents of Iqaluit should expect to have safe water to drink. But first find out why and how the water got contaminated. If a water system is needed then the feds shouldn’t just hand over the money. The City should have to borrow a portion and the Feds provide a portion as a grant.
    Just like most other municipalities have to do. No more money with out proper over sight.

  5. Posted by Shawn on

    It should cost 50 million or less to fix water distribution.

    How is bottled water more expensive than gas anyway?

    • Posted by Alls on

      You say that with such authority, but back it up with nothing. Please explain how you figure it should only cost $50 million. Not trying to be snarky. Actually asking.

    • Posted by Economist on

      The core question and irony is not the cost but rather why should a location in the arctic is importing drinking water. Blaming governance is equivalent to doing the same thing and expecting different outcomes.

  6. Posted by Old timer on

    Housing first Idlout water can wait

    • Posted by John K on

      Luckily many of us can do more than one thing at a time.

  7. Posted by Colin on

    My recollection from decades ago, which may be mistaken, is that we received water transported directly from the lake without any treatment in between. I don’t recall any complaints or no-drink advisories.

  8. Posted by pissed off on

    Where did Miss Idlout come up with such a figure ?

    Out of a hat ????

    Making statements like that only harms the credibility of the people of the North all around..

    Also enough of that mentality that EVERYTHING has to be scrapped and built new.

    Some towns in the South have infrastructure that is close to 200 years old and still operational. this all about care, proper maintenance . All that comes from COMPETENCE at all levels of governance. And don`t talk to us always about the extreme weather. We are not the only City with harsh climate in the world!!!!!

    Buildings need to be maintained properly and this does not mean fixing when an emergency arises only.

  9. Posted by Frank on

    That is a ridiculous amount of money for a water treatment plant ! Oh geez heh is taxpayers are n the hook for it. Think of the biggest cruise ship on water now ! They can handle the water situation no problem from their boat on the the ocean people ! You Baffin Island is surrounded by the ocean and is all made up of water. I’m sure $180 million dollars can buy a couple of desalination units same as the ones on the biggest cruise ships use. But for cheaper …..

    • Posted by anon on

      Didn’t the city buy a modular desalination plant a few years back?

    • Posted by John on

      I love this idea. We could solve the housing problem and the water problem in one go. Buy a cruise ship that can house 3000 to 4000 people and provide clean water on top of that. It would probably cost about this $180M value as well. Iqaluit as a city could even just travel a little further south during the winter sometimes.

  10. Posted by Kazik Jeda on

    The City got already $ 108 million from the federal government. The fuel is getting to the water system from the abandoned rusted and left in disarray fuel container. First fix this problem. No more money. Kazik

  11. Posted by Pie in the sky!! on

    How out of touch with reality can you be? What makes you think that a minority gov’t could pressure the liberals into pouring money into a problem that is not their propblem? This is a direct result of mismanagement. Proper maintenance & qualified staff go a long way. This region has such adistorted sense of entitlement! Do you realize how many other places in this country have been without clean, drinkable water for years & the feds have done absolutely nothing about it! Stop expecting a hand out & start pulling your own weight!

    • Posted by Anguttialook on

      Sure is pie in the sky…another uncalulated and unrealistic comment without much research or thought…one of many……she opens her mouth as always to be heard…ok Ottawa says the cheque is in the mail…or just ask jagmeet singles supplier of free chair…so why not a free water treatment plant…iqualuit created this problem…therefore let them fund it….how does this affect surgeries…you got surgeon’s in the out post Lori represents….and cargo needs water to be delivered……please….oh please…..cry me some clean river water

    • Posted by Thirsty on

      Poor planning and poor management are 100% to blame. Why was there a fuel tank left in the ground full of fuel from the 60s? Are there no maintenance or planning records maintained by the municipality? When some southern engineer in the 60s decided underground utildors etc were a good idea did no one mention to do ground studies and environmental studies? There have been procedures in place down south for environmental studies, did the ‘highest bidder’ on the original water plant just take the money and run? No impact studies done or soil tests? Someone had to have known about this oil tank, so did their concerns fall on deaf ears? Did it get pushed under the rug as it’s “not my problem”? Or did the person just not care? There is so much negligence going on here at so many different levels that it isn’t funny anymore.

  12. Posted by Observer on

    So without knowing where the water is coming from and what infrastructure would be needed, she knows exactly how much money will be required?


  13. Posted by Dear Nunatsiaq News on

    To the moral cowards at Nunatsiaq news. I honestly can’t believe you’ve allowed this grotesque comment up… why is that?

    This person has basically implied that the contamination of the water is tied to the cab drivers, with emphasis on them being unsavoury outsiders, and you fuckwits decided that airing that kind of inflammatory shit is okay, but no criticism of the village idiot is allowed…

  14. Posted by What’s the date? on

    I had to check the date on this story … no, it’s not April 1. OK, hands up everyone who would trust the city and the GN with $180,000 to fix the water system, let alone $180 million. And why $180M? Why not go for a cadillac fix at $280M? Or maybe a basic fix for $80M? Pick a number, any number. The feds would shell out that kind of money for any southern community of 7-8 thousand to fix their water system? Not in any known universe. There is a serious problem here, but let’s put aside the political posturing.

    • Posted by Pangloss on

      A pattern of “saying whateve captures attention” but is rarely grounded in substance has certainly emerged with our new.MP. I suppose for some this is no surprise at all, for the rest of us let’s take note.

  15. Posted by Love it, with a minor adjustment! on

    I am all for the idea of asking the Feds for $180M to fix our water issue, with a very minor adjustment: I would suggest requesting the $180M be sent directly to Iqaluit residents, so we will get $22.5K each; then each resident will commit to donate $2.5K to the city to fix he issue.
    With each resident pocketing $20K and the city collecting $20M from its good citizens, everyone wins!

  16. Posted by Colin on

    I’m not a chemist but it occurs to me that it’s necessary to identify what impurities and chemicals need to be filtered out. Depending on the answer, maybe a filtration system in each home would do the job. You can get one just for a kitchen for a couple of hundred bucks and one for an entire home for under a thousand. Absent a cost analysis, it serves no useful service to pull out of the sky the number of 180 million dollars. That’s $22,500 for every man woman and child in Iqaluit or $90,000 for a family of four.

  17. Posted by Step in or Step Aside on

    fickle people goes to nunatsiaqnews comments all the time. Might as well be called ranting and raven.
    Few things I don’t read or watch, news in the morning, and this. Not a good place to lift your mood.

    There’s an old saying STEP IN OR STEP ASIDE! Aksuli pinasukma

    • Posted by Dave on

      There’s an old saying STEP IN OR STEP ASIDE! Aksuli pinasukma

      And the funny thing is………. that would be great advice for Idlout right now. She should “Step in” and be part of the solution, rather than “step out” and join in the blame game.

  18. Posted by John K on

    This is just such a typical answer from our territory’s peanut gallery.

    Fear the outsiders!!!

  19. Posted by Dave on

    “fix an issue of basic human rights … as the federal government would for any other major Canadian city,”
    That’s flat out misinformation.

    I can’t think of one time the Federal government came in to help a municipality with this type of a problem. Sometimes the Federal government goes into cost sharing through existing Federal infrastructure programs. But that is nothing like Idlout is referring to.

    Too often people here in authority spread misinformation like this and people that never follow current events in Canada believe it.

  20. Posted by Taaaa! on

    What about the rest of us outside of iqaluit with shitty water all year round. Multiple boil water advisories, with the shittyest water lakes. $180M for iqaluit water but of course, the rest of will always be forgotten. Simply because we do not live in the capital of nunavut our lives will always be less than I guess.

    Why not ask the feds to upgrade all water facilities in all of nunavut. We all have equal rights to water don’t we? Or is it that only iqaluit should have good drinking water?

  21. Posted by Name Withheld on

    Infrastructure should have been upgrade and looked into by CGS and work with the City!!!

    I can guaranteed alot of other places in Nunavut that has been on boil advisory for over 10 years, if not 15. And Iqaluit has it since October? Now all of a sudden she is asking for millions? Go Figure!!!

    Think of the Mental Health Crisis, Elders who needs to be stopped being sent to south for Embassy!!!! A actual rehabilitation facility!!!

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