Iqaluit council backs down on time zone issue

Iqaluit Town Council has rescinded its Oct. 12 motion opposing the creation of a unified Nunavut time zone.


Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT — Iqaluit town council has backed down from its pledge to stay on eastern standard time after Oct. 30.

At a special town council meeting attended by Premier Paul Okalik and Justice Minister Jack Anawak, Iqaluit town councillors rescinded a motion passed Oct. 12 that rejected the single Nunavut time zone.

To drive the point home, Iqaluit councillors then passed a second motion to officially adopt the central time zone “in the spirit of working with the Nunavut government.”

The motion further states that the Iqaluit council will revisit the issue in six months.

On Oct. 31, Iqaluit residents, along with most other residents in the Baffin region, will move their clocks back one hour due to the end of daylight time, and another hour to join central time.

Iqaluit was one of at least two Baffin communities that rejected the single time zone in council motions.

Okalik said Iqaluit council’s change of heart “shows real leadership on the part of the Town.”

“They’re willing to accommodate everyone in Nunavut. They may be negatively affected somewhat, but they’re willing to give it a try,” Okalik said.

Coun. Doug Lem proposed the original motion to ignore the single Nunavut time zone. This week he proposed that the motion be rescinded and that Iqaluit adopt central time.

“In the spirit of working together with the Nunavut government and to defuse any confusion… we’re going to give this a try,” Lem said.

“If it’s a real big deal after a few months, maybe we can bring it up again with our MLAs.”

But Lem’s second motion may have been unnecessary.

Iqaluit’s acting senior administrative officer, Ookalik Curley, told councillors they did not have the authority to choose their own time zone.

“Even though our own municipality made a motion, we don’t really have the authority to implement that,” Curley said.

Curley said council could apply to the federal government to change its time zone, just as the Nunavut government has done, but at this time the power lies with the territory.

Last week, Iqaluit Mayor Jimmy Kilabuk publicly stated the Town would conform with the single time zone despite the Oct. 12 motion.

Speaking to councillors earlier in the meeting, Okalik asked council to work with the Nunavut government and for Iqaluit residents to deal with the change.

“We have been able to work well together, I would like to see this type of approach in the future,” he said. “We have to provide a model for other communities.”

Okalik pointed to the money the Nunavut government is giving the Town to pay for a new sewage lagoon as an example of how the two governments have worked together in the past.

In the future, he said the territorial government will need Iqaluit’s input on issues such as law reform. And he asked council to suggest the name of an original Iqaluit resident to adorn the new Nunavut government building neear the four corners.

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