Iqaluit seaport gets closer to reality

“Let’s get it done. It’s tangible. It could happen”



The City of Iqaluit has developed a proposal to build a deepwater seaport by October 2009.

The proposed plan would cost $49 million — far cheaper than earlier anticipated.

Council heard about the plan, prepared by Aarluk Consulting, Gartner Lee Ltd. and port planner Captain Chris Anderson, at a meeting on Sept. 13.

The next step is to begin pitching the idea of the seaport to departments of the federal government that could be potential sources of funding, such as the departments of infrastructure, transportation, and fisheries and oceans.

Prior to this report, the least expensive estimate was $97 million, with speculations of a price tag reaching as high as $250 million.

The seaport would be located at Innuit Head, the current location of the land-based oil pipeline. The deepwater berth would extend 80 metres, with a working width of 18 metres. The plan includes the cost of building a road to the site, and a bridge across “Canoe Passage.”

Some highlights from the report:

* Time spent unloading general cargo could be reduced by almost 80 per cent;
* • For petroleum vessels, unloading time could be reduced by 60 per cent. A deepwater port would also reduce the environmental risk of spills through the existing floating pipeline, and make it possible to prepare proper plans for an oil spill;
* • Annual cost savings for companies unloading cargo and oil is estimated to be between $3.4 and $4.9 million. Some of the money saved would go back into user fees for the port — which is expected to cost $2.14 million annually to operate — but there’s potential for reduced cargo and petroleum transportation costs;
* • The seaport could also lure offshore vessels fishing for shrimp and turbot into town. Vessels fishing in waters near Iqaluit currently spend a 12-day trip returning to their southern home port, which is a major loss of fishing time;
* • Coast guard icebreakers and navy vessels could refuel in town, rather than by tanker or at other ports;
* • It’s expected that a deepwater port would immediately double the opportunities for local outfitters to provide boat tours to visitors.

“Let’s get it done. It’s tangible. It could happen,” said Ian Fremantle, the city’s chief administrative officer.

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