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Iqaluit councilors slam snowmobiles

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

Iqaluit city councilors are calling for a special meeting on snowmobiles in the New Year.

“I want snowmobiles out of the core area, going at astronomical speeds, and missing me by inches,” said Coun. Nancy Gillis, during a committee of the whole meeting on Dec. 6.

The committee decided it will recommend to council that a special meeting be held on snowmobile issues in mid-January, before the legislature sits.

That meeting would aim at deciding where snowmobiles belong, and dealing with public safety and noise concerns.

It would also deal with problems the city has encountered in building proposed snowmobile trails.

City staff hoped the small snow-clearing machines used to clear pedestrian walkways could also create these trails. But the mini-snowplows are equipped with wheels, rather than tracks, making them unsuitable for rolling across the tundra.

But public safety is the big subject on the minds of councilors.

Coun. Glenn Williams said he’s seen people nearly clipped by snowmobiles as they leave DJ Ventures with their heads down, opening a pack of smokes.

“Somebody’s going to be whacked,” he said.

Claude Martel said the vehicles should be barred from city streets: “They can’t be on the road. That’s it.”

Others said a ban would be wishful thinking.

“It’s so much a part of the culture here, you won’t be able to eliminate them completely,” Theresa Rodrigue said.

City bylaws governing snowmobiles do currently exist, calling for direct travel from home to destination during the early hours to restrict noise. But because bylaw officers don’t patrol on snowmobiles, enforcement is a problem.

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