Iqaluit eyes new gravel sources

Proposed port, airport upgrades just talk without new pit



City of Iqaluit staff plan to meet with the Government of Nunavut next month to discuss the development of a new gravel pit.

That’s important because you can’t build anything without gravel, and the material is in short supply.

The city’s existing gravel pit inside North 40 has been closed for most of the last two years, after the discovery of asbestos and oil spills inside it.

Last summer the federal government conducted a study to find a new gravel source. Two potential sites were identified using ground-penetrating radar, but both will require new roads to reach them.

The first option, near Tarr Inlet, contains about 800,000 cubic metres worth of material – enough gravel to last for the next 10 to 15 years. A road would need to be built past Apex to reach the area.

The second option is about five kilometres northwest of Upper Base. It contains 14 million cubic metres, or enough gravel to last 25-50 years.

“That’s enough to develop the whole city,” said Ian Fremantle, the city’s chief administrative officer, during budget discussions last week.

Building a road to the second site would cost about $3 million, which is money the city doesn’t have. That’s where the city hopes the GN will come in.

It’s also possible the city could “piggyback” the cost of building a road on another project, such as the proposed deepwater port.

Another option is a partnership with the Iqaluit airport, which has upgrades planned over the next few years that will require large amounts of gravel.

Once plans for a road are settled, the city will need to approach regulators, including the federal department of Indian and Northern Affairs and the GN’s water board and Department of Environment.

In late November the city passed a resolution that it wouldn’t spend any more of ratepayers’ money on cleaning up contaminants in North 40.

The city’s gravel operations racked up $109,000 in debt since the site closed. Most of that money went towards paying environmental consultants who buried the asbestos beneath tarps and contained the petroleum with berms.

The city’s draft 2006 budget proposes to dip into gravel reserves to pay off that amount. That’s money set aside from gravel sales while the pit was open.

“Obviously, it would be ideal if we didn’t need to use North 40 any more,” Fremantle said.

The city and federal government both dispute whose responsibility it is to clean up the site, which was once Frobisher Bay’s metal dump.

“We’re not getting the assistance that we need or were promised by senior levels of government,” Fremantle said.

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