Iqaluit dump-burning deadline looming

With no incinerator in place, Iqaluit faces fines for violating licence.



IQALUIT — The city of Iqaluit may get rapped on the knuckles for not finding an alternative to burning its garbage.

Under its water licence, Iqaluit is required to limit the open burning of garbage by June 1.

With just a week to go before the deadline and no program in place, Iqaluit is at risk of violating the licence.

Failing to comply with conditions of a water licence can result in fines. For municipalities the maximum penalty is $15,000, but that’s only for serious offences.

What fines — if any — Iqaluit could face isn’t clear yet, said Paul Smith, manager of water resources for the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs.

While water licences are issued by the Nunavut Water Board, it’s up to DIAND to enforce them.

Smith said that since the June 1 deadline hasn’t passed he can’t speculate on what will happen. Smith said water inspectors often investigate if it’s suspected that violations have occurred.

Some of the more serious offences, such as those that harm the environment, come with stiff penalties. Imprisonment is a possibility in the most extreme instances.

When asked whether Iqaluit’s open burning of garbage is a serious violation, Smith said: “We haven’t reached that [deadline] yet, so that speculation hasn’t been made.”

No help in sight

Iqaluit Mayor John Matthews is well aware that the June 1 deadline is looming.

“We do have a concern,” Matthews said in an interview.

But money has been a stumbling block for Iqaluit.

The city simply doesn’t have the $12 million it needs to build an incinerator. Iqaluit would use the incinerator to deal with garbage instead of continuing open burning at the dump.

But the money for the incinerator didn’t come through in the Nunavut government’s capital budget this spring.

Iqaluit was then forced to ask the federal government for money.

The mayor wrote to Robert Nault, minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, warning him that without help from Ottawa the city couldn’t fix its garbage problems.

But the federal government isn’t lending a helping hand.

In his response to the mayor’s request, Nault didn’t make any mention of providing money.

“It doesn’t appear we’re getting any help from the federal minister,” Rick Butler, the city’s administrative officer, said in frustration.

The mayor said the council and administration will have to look to other sources and programs for money.

Iqaluit’s ongoing labour dispute hasn’t helped. The time the council and administration would have spent working on a garbage plan has instead been used dealing with the lockout of the city’s workers.

The lockout is now entering its fifth week. The mayor said the city has been forced to focus on poor road conditions and residents’ lack of water.

“We probably are behind because of the work stoppage,” he said.

Paul Smith, the water resources manager, pointed out that Iqaluit could ask the Nunavut Water Board Water to extend its deadline. In cases where licencees don’t expect to meet their deadlines, extensions are sometimes granted.

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