Iqaluit gets $600,000 from GN to offset water emergency costs

City had asked to recover $3.5M it spent while Iqaluit’s water was undrinkable from fuel contamination

Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell speaks at a city council meeting on June 14 where councillors discussed a $600,000 contribution from the GN to offset costs associated with Iqaluit’s water emergency. (Photo by Emma Tranter)

By Emma Tranter

The City of Iqaluit has received $600,000 from the Department of Community and Government Services to help offset costs associated with the city’s water emergency last year.

Chief administrative officer Amy Elgersma told city council Tuesday that the city spent $3.5 million during the emergency, with about $2 million making up for revenue lost from the water bills that went unpaid.

The city waived all its water bills for October and November after the Department of Health advised people to stop consuming their tap water because it was contaminated with fuel.

During the emergency, city councillors unanimously agreed to apply to the territory’s Municipal Request for Assistance Program for reimbursement of those costs.

Mayor Kenny Bell told council although the money from the GN is a “great help,” it’s “kind of sad.”

“They’re shortchanging us for something that, frankly, was not our fault,” he said.

“Whoever buried that tank, it’s their fault,” he added, referring to an underground fuel tank beside the water treatment plant that was thought to be the source of contamination.

Deputy mayor Solomon Awa mentioned that Nunavut’s land-use plan is currently under review and as part of that, there are federal funds available to clean up sites in the territory.

“Perhaps we can look into that and seek funding from that,” Awa said.

Coun. Kyle Sheppard noted although the funding doesn’t cover the city’s full cost, forgiving water bills was a decision council made together.

“Nearly $2 million of that response was directly the choice of council … knowing full well that the chance of recovering those funds was pretty slim in the future,” he said.

Sheppard also said the money was a “substantial contribution.”

“The decisions we make have consequences and this is going to be one of them by the looks of it,” he said.

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(19) Comments:

  1. Posted by Imagine on

    Imagine, this mayor asking for others to take accountability. Has he taken accountability for his past actions? Recent news articles suggest not

    • Posted by Oh? on

      Im sure he learned that behaviour by observing the actions of other politicians in Nunavut

  2. Posted by Ding dong on

    This mayor never takes responsibility for anything. They made the decision to wave the bills. And the Class action lawsuit for terrible service? Does anyone advise this guy? Does he not understand the costs associated with providing the services he wants and that NOrthwestel already runs a deficit to service the North. Terrible service compared to what? Good luck with that. Save the lawyer fees . Election year coming up obviously. I suspect there is going to be a lot more of these outlandish statements .

  3. Posted by Not me on

    Mayors motto should be ‘who’s fault is it?’

  4. Posted by thanks folds on

    “Coun. Kyle Sheppard noted although the funding doesn’t cover the city’s full cost, forgiving water bills was a decision council made together.”

    …right, which was a motion pushed by ex-councilor John Fawcet who had already said he was resigning and leaving nunavut at that point. So he directly benefited from skipping those water bills and now this is coming back to bite us in the ass in a major way. These are the types of people we have to stop electing, people who oversimplify complex problems and use their influence to make poor decisions for the community.

    Thanks John. You werent on council long but at least you’ll be remembered for something (too bad it’s a major blunder)

  5. Posted by DudeTown on

    The city of Iqaluit “maintains” that water treatment plant. I really don’t care who buried that tank– the city of Iqaluit is still responsible for it. Own it. Kenny Bells blame game is childish.

  6. Posted by Ragin Ronnie on

    Fault? What a childish response. It’s the City of Iqaluit’s responsibility. Period. Full stop.

    • Posted by Ragin Ronnie on

      I thought the assistance program mentioned in the article was for municapilities who had no taxing authority. The city has taxing authority through the levying of property taxes?

  7. Posted by blame game on

    Kenny Bell playing the blame game eh? What did the city do when the initial reports of fuel smell came back in October? Didn’t he say that it was safe to drink? Didn’t the city screw up initially when they sent out the tests? I recall that the water samples weren’t properly packaged. And it took them over a week to do a do not consume order. If Kenny is playing the blame game, this is 100% City of Iqaluit’s fault

  8. Posted by Incredible on

    What a slap in the face of the GN.
    I would like to see Amy’s numbers on paper to justify $3.5. Just simply because trust is broken.
    The Mayor has the guts to respond ‘its kind of sad”. The Mayor should be thanking CGS for saving its rear end. He should be thanking the GN and CGST for providing the charters and the water to the residence during a crisis in which he assured people the water was fine and he consumed it all the time throughout the crisis. Maybe, just maybe someone is now feeling the after effects of consuming to much bad water.
    CGS should have taken over the city, removed council and settled the water issue properly and started an inquiry into how this could have happened in the first place, the lack of trust and transparency from the City of Iqaluit is pathetic. We need as tax payers to see accountability. You owned the buried tank for years and years, you accepted the job as Mayor, you should have made it your responsibility to know what was in the ground. Suck it up butter cup.. the Jig is Up..

    • Posted by Class action on

      This guy thinks he is trump. No gratitude just grandstanding and Ridiculous finger pointing and blaming to deflect from his own actions. He’s trying to get reelected again. Fat chance. Lol how about class action lawsuit against the city for incompetence? This mayor put citizens at risk for telling them the water was safe.

  9. Posted by I live in the Arctic on

    Ok mayors learn from his mistakes, take leadership.

    • Posted by Learn from mistakes on

      So many mistakes to learn from. Should write a book on all his mistakes to help future mayors.

  10. Posted by No more on

    Enough from Kenny. It’s getting old. The shock value has worn off.

  11. Posted by Huh on

    How come so many people went to Regina?. Didn’t Kenny get angry about so many people going before when he was in council?

    • Posted by ? on

      What do you mean? I do not understand the reference to Regina, Saskatchewan.

  12. Posted by Deflection on

    Deflection, deflection, deflection. Kenny bell needs to go back to bed. So tired of hearing about his unqualified opinion about anything.

    Blame blame blame.. classic narcissist

  13. Posted by Thomas Shelby on

    I hope the next Mayor is more professional and holds the City accountable when it needs to be, they are the ones making the decisions. Also leaving everyone wondering and in the dark about the water and if its safe, was a big mistake. Now whining about only getting $600,000 is ludacris, he should be glad the GN gave anything, they weren’t obligated to. Praying the next mayor is more professional and more transparent during a crisis.

  14. Posted by Kaitlin on

    The real question for me is the city makes 2 Million off the residents of Iqaluit every 3 months on water alone? That seems insane! I feel like these numbers are just pulled out of thin air.

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