Iqaluit’s new deepsea port set to finally open

GN invites public to attend opening ceremony with festivities, tours of the site

Iqaluit’s new deepsea port opens to the public Tuesday at noon. (Photo by Jeff Pelletier)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

After decades of planning and several delays, Iqaluit’s new deepsea port is set to open Tuesday at noon.

The Government of Nunavut invited the public to take part in a celebration of the port’s opening and the arrival of the first sealift ship with music, food and tours of the port.

A shuttle service will be offered, leaving from the Nakasuk School parking lot.

It’s an opening day that has been decades in the making.

As early as the 1970s and 1980s, the federal government saw the need to build a port, according to a 2005 report by Aarluk Consulting and Gartner Lee Ltd., but those plans fizzled.

Then in 2005, the report noted, the City of Iqaluit was looking into building a port and initial designs were unveiled. It outlined a proposed construction timeline that would see the port completed and in operation by 2009.

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In July 2015, then-MP Leona Aglukkaq announced the federal government would spend $63.7 million on a new port — about 75 per cent of the total $84.9 million cost — and the Government of Nunavut would cover the remaining  $21.2 million.

But about two and a half months later, Aglukkaq’s Conservative Party government led by then-prime minister Stephen Harper was defeated in the federal election.

The Liberals, under Justin Trudeau, took power, Aglukkaq lost her seat to Liberal Hunter Tootoo, and the port project’s future became uncertain.

Then in January 2016, the Liberal government confirmed the port funding was still there and the project was still a go.

In September that year, the territory’s Community and Government Services Department said it was eyeing the year 2020 as a completion date.

In an update from Community and Government Services in September 2017, the GN reiterated it was eyeing a completion date for fall 2020, with shipping operations to start in 2021.

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The Nunavut Impact Review Board gave the port project the go-ahead in October 2017.

Tower Arctic Ltd., a majority Inuit-owned construction company, was awarded the contract to build the port in May 2018. Construction began shortly after.

In March 2020, the Government of Nunavut implemented travel restrictions to the territory as COVID-19 spread around the world. Despite that, Iqaluit city council voted in May 2020 to plow ahead with construction of several infrastructure projects including the port.

In October 2020, the GN said it was eyeing a 2021 completion date with a plan to begin shipping in 2022.

During question period in June 2022, Minister of Economic Development and Transportation David Akeeagok announced work on the port project had been delayed. As a result, it wouldn’t open until 2023.

In November 2022, the Government of Nunavut announced the port had been completed, and earlier this year Akeeagok said it would be ready in time for the summer sealift.

A cargo ship is already in the bay area around Iqaluit with more on there way, according to MarineTraffic.com.

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(16) Comments:

  1. Posted by Wash on

    So why is the sealift that is currently in the bay still having to send barges back and forth? Why aren’t they able to use the port if it was definitely supposed to be ready for this sealift season?

    • Posted by Tower arctic on

      Because GN didn’t talk to NEAS who wasn’t consulted on what their ships would need in terms of systems and equipment in order to unload. The incompetence of government and northern enterprise, never ceases to amaze me, and never ceases.

      • Posted by Perspective on

        Have you been following the Ottawa LRT debacle? This is a well-oiled machine by comparison.

        I’ll take simple, incremental improvements at a modest price over an ambitious boondoggle that becomes useless in the medium term and costly to fix at some uncertain future date.

      • Posted by AdvantageNorth on

        I believe
        Marc-André Bougie, NEAS’s vice president of marketing and sales Co.ments today challege this assertion

    • Posted by Quibbler in Residence on

      Both the fuel tankers and the coast guard have used the dock, so it’s probably a NEAS thing.

  2. Posted by E5k1m0 on

    Tower arctic owned by inuit? Yet you don’t see any inuit working for the company in iqaluit.

    • Posted by Tower arctic on

      Do you think they actually own it? No it’s the Jacobsen family . They just found a few inuks and made a contract that they own it on paper but not in reality.

      • Posted by Distorted realities on

        Good for them, when the rules are distorted one has to distort oneself…. who could blame them?

      • Posted by Nunavut economy on

        This is a big problem here in Nunavut, our GN knows about this problem of southern owned companies that use a few token Inuit as the head of the company to get these lucrative contracts, the company hires 90% of their employees from the south, don’t do any capacity building in Nunavut, no training to build up the local infrastructure.
        Most of the funds from the lucrative contracts flow south to the true owners homes.
        In the long run Nunavut loses out, the contracts have to be made more expensive to get anything done, the local people don’t get trained, work experience or the jobs, very little stays in Nunavut which effects the Nunavut economy.
        It’s still very much a frontier territory mindset, where the “experts” from outside come in to do the labour work for a incredibly expensive amount of money to finish a small project that would cost 10 times less in the south when you add everything together at the end,
        In the 90s and early 2000s the GN went away from issuing contracts to smaller Nunavut based companies that were truly Nunavut owned businesses with majority local hires to putting out tenders that only much larger companies from the south could bid on, slowly our true local companies went belly up or bought out by these larger southern companies.
        It’s so strange how our GN has went about this and that really no one ever speaks about it or brings it up by our MLAs. They just sit back and nod their heads or shrug their shoulders.

  3. Posted by Port Authority on

    So who is the port authority? Do they have their policies and guidelines in place?

  4. Posted by AdvantageNorth on

    Well deserved accolades to former Premier Taptuna and EDT Minister Ell.

  5. Posted by AdvantageNorth on

    It should be noted that the original $63.7 million funding agreement also set aside funding for the Pond Inlet small craft harbour.

    • Posted by John WP Murphy on

      Also many thanks to MP Leona Aglukkaq and Prime Minister Harper

      • Posted by To be accurate on

        To be more accurate Leona during her campaign saw she wasn’t doing very well and decided to throw in a last minute campaign promise right at the end of her campaign for these ports.

        It’s thanks to the Liberal government for actually going ahead with her campaign promise (which they didn’t have to do) and getting the funding in place to build these port and upgrades to small craft harbours.
        This Liberal government which I have not been a fan of have actually spend more money on Nunavut and the north with various projects such as this port, which we cannot say the same thing about the Cons and all the cuts they did in their decade in power.
        Let’s be clear on that and give a proper thanks to our current government who made this happen.

        • Posted by John WP Murphy on

          I guess you didn’t read the article. This project would have gone through with the Conservatives had been elected.. Unfortunately, the Nunavut electorate decided Tootoo would represent them and you know where that went. Followed by two more powerless MPs,
          If you believe that any of the three would have even suggested this port and the smaller one in Pond Inlet, you are whistling Dixie. What has Nunavut gained from this Liberal/NDP debacle?

        • Posted by Mr. Busybody on

          It’s true that the Liberals didn’t cancel it, but it wouldn’t have been selected under the Infrastructure Canada program in the first place without Leona’s support. Leona wasn’t Infrastructure minister, so it wasn’t a promise she could make. She could throw her support behind it, but ultimately the decision wasn’t hers alone.

          The Liberals have been pretty good on marine infrastructure, but the Conservatives were also moving in the right direction up to 2015 (see also Pangnirtung small craft harbour).


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