Iqaluit city councillors discuss forthcoming transportation master plan
“We’re not interested in moving vehicles, we’re interested in moving people”
Every so often drivers in Iqaluit find themselves bumper to bumper waiting for their turn to pass through the Four Corners on their way to wherever they may be going.
This week, Nunami Stantec, a consulting firm, is in town to hear about issues like this as they develop a transportation master plan for the city that will provide a roadmap for the future.
As part of their visit this week, Nunami Stantec spoke with councillors during Tuesday night’s council meeting about what they’d like to see in a transportation master plan.
Their presentation follows two days of public engagement around the city and an online survey.
According to Lesley Cabott, a planning lead for Nunami Stantec, as of Tuesday night’s meeting, the public response has been good, with around 60 attendees at a public meeting at the aquatic centre the night before and almost 100 responses to the transportation master plan online survey.
Last night, it was the council’s turn.
Before getting into specifics, Coun. Kyle Sheppard asked what the council could expect from the final report.
“What do you expect? What is your win?” replied Cabott.
The delegation is just beginning the master plan process and right now its scope is wide open.
At one point during the evening, Brandon Orr, a transportation project manager with Nunami Stantec, said, “We’re not interested in moving vehicles, we’re interested in moving people.”
From there the suggestions poured in, including a bus system, sidewalks, changes to problematic intersections, and snowmobile crossings.
There were also discussions around other well-worn topics, including traffic congestion at the Four Corners and the recently contested issue of parking.
In addition to the movement of people, part of last night’s discussion also focused on the movement of goods, particularly around current and future sealift operations.
“Certainly, with the deep-sea port, that’s a very important piece of infrastructure that’s coming into the city,” said Orr.
“We’re going to be looking at how that’s going to change mobility in the future, and how we’re going to facilitate the movement of commercial goods throughout the town.”
Part of the task of the transportation master plan will be to forecast what future traffic is going to look like in a decade, looking for what the possible constraints may be and how to address those issues before they happen.
According to Cabott, Nunami Stantec will be meeting with a number of stakeholders involved with the movement of goods throughout the city, including both sealift operators.
Another topic that generated discussion during the meeting was the transportation of watercraft.
“Last summer it was a really bad summer to launch our boat at the causeway because the potholes were so severe, and thankfully nothing happened to our boat and trailer, but a lot of hunters were affected,” said Coun. Sheila Flaherty.
“That road needs to be paved to save thousands of dollars of equipment that people invest in for their families.”
Part of the transportation master plan is looking at road classifications.
“We’re going to identify corridors that see high volumes of traffic and which corridors need to have an elevated level of maintenance and potentially pavement so that they last longer and they can accommodate heavy vehicles, things like that so that there aren’t potholes,” said Orr.
To do this, Nunami Stantec will be coordinating with the city’s public works department.
Mayor Kenny Bell said that the city has looked at a design to upgrade that road but that it had a price tag of $6 million.
Another focus of the discussion was public safety.
Deputy Mayor Janet Brewster said that she’d like to see a transportation plan that includes public safety teachings and education for children.
“A lot of children are playing in the ditches and in the road allowances and it’s really important to make them aware of safety.”
On the subject of pedestrians near roadways, Coun. Romeyn Stevenson took a moment to address crosswalks in the city.
“I am a huge proponent of—and believe that we are remiss as a city that we don’t have—lit crosswalks in at least three points in the city. I think that it’s verging on negligence that we haven’t got them yet. I’m assuming that you’ll be looking at safe crosswalks?”
Orr responded by acknowledging that it’s great that the city has so many crosswalks and said that the study would evaluate options that address the issue of visibility and safety at those locations.
Stevenson also asked another question, “I’m assuming at the end of the study we’re going to have a roundabout?”
There was laughter in the room.
In addition to their visit to city council, Nunami Stantec will also be conducting public engagement sessions around the city over the next few days:
- Feb. 27
- Aquatic Centre: 4 to 7 p.m.
- Feb. 28
- Elders’ Qammaq: 1 to 3 p.m.
- Arctic Winter Games Arena: 6 to 8 p.m.
There will also be a public open house on Thursday, Feb. 27, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the elders’ qammaq.
Those interested in offering their feedback can also do so online by completing the transportation master plan survey here.
The next Iqaluit city council session will be on March 9.