Iqaluit’s ship comes in as deepsea port opens

$85M port should lead to more efficient unloading, lower prices, faster services, officials say

After nearly a week anchored at sea, an NEAS Sealift ship is docked at Iqaluit’s brand new port Tuesday. (Photo by Jeff Pelletier)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

With Iqaluit’s new deepsea port now open, Nunavut leaders say they hope to see lower prices for goods and faster shipping service across the territory.

The opening of the $84.9-million port Tuesday afternoon was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and barbecue put on by the Department of Economic Development and Transportation.

“It is a very exciting day, seeing a huge improvement for the marine infrastructure side: that’s a milestone for this territory,” said Nunavut Minister of Economic Development and Transportation David Akeeagok.

“We lack a lot of infrastructure and this is just the beginning, from my perspective, that we need to see more and more.”

The idea of building a deepsea port in Iqaluit goes back to the 1970s, when the federal government studied its feasibility, but those plans all fizzled out.

A proposal was put forward in 2005 with a prospective opening date of 2009, but that failed as well.

It wasn’t until 2015 that funding was secured when the federal government — led by then-prime minister Stephen Harper — and Nunavut agreed, respectively, to pay $63.7 million and $21.2 million of the total cost of the project.

An NEAS Arctic Sealift ship — the Qamutik — which had been anchored in the bay outside of Iqaluit since July 19, docked at the port Tuesday morning and began unloading goods. By late afternoon the ship had left the port.

In addition to a dock for container ships, the port includes a ramp that extends into the deep water to allow barges to be loaded and to unload onto the shore at all times of the day.

Before the port’s construction, goods had to be moved from ship to shore during high tide. It meant ships would stay anchored at sea for a week until they were fully unloaded.

As part of Iqaluit’s new deepsea port, a long ramp extends into the deep water. This feature allows items to be transported by barge from ship to shore, regardless of the tide level. (Photo by Jeff Pelletier)

“This port will reduce offload time from days to hours,” said Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak Lightstone.

He was among the politicians who spoke at Tuesday’s ceremony, saying they hope that use of the port will lead to less reliance on slow and expensive barges, and by extension lower prices for goods.

“The investment in this port will produce direct savings for sealift companies, and I challenge our sealift providers to pass on as much of those cost savings to their customers as possible,” Lightstone said.

Iqaluit Mayor Solomon Awa echoed Lightstone’s points.

Awa also shared his optimism that Iqaluit residents won’t be the only ones who see reduced costs as a benefit of the port.

“No more waiting for high tide anymore,” Awa said.

“It will benefit the whole of Iqaluit and even, perhaps, the other communities as well.”

Marc-André Bougie, NEAS’s vice president of marketing and sales, highlighted the fact the port offers a safer unloading of goods, but also said it will mean moving ships to other communities more quickly since they won’t be bogged down for extended periods of time in Iqaluit.

“If we improve our efficiencies here in Iqaluit because we’re no longer waiting for the tide, then it’s going to benefit [other communities],” Bougie said.

“If we’re three days or four days earlier in Pangnirtung, in Kimmirut, in Cape Dorset (Kinngait), in other communities, we’re also de-risking a lot of the operation with this infrastructure.”

In addition to the optimism about shipping costs and services, Akeeagok said the GN is committed to working on getting more ports and small craft harbours built in Nunavut.

“There’s projects that are going on in the Baffin side; we need investments in Kitikmeot and Kivalliq, too,” he said.

“I hope that we can see more and more of these happening with partnerships with our federal government in seeing more of these realities into other communities.”

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(23) Comments:

  1. Posted by Christiane mackay on

    My son is thé chief mate aboard thé qamutik jean Sébastien fugere vvery proud or him and of thé company he works for NEAS fair a few years as cadet than 3rd officier …:very proiud of your community that continues to make Life better up north?????

  2. Posted by Thanks Canadian Taxpayers on

    Wont be cheaper prices since Nunavut businesses only know how to pocket savings not pass them on but maybe with this we won’t need them so much.
    Thanks to the rest of Canada and those terrible southern taxpayers for funding this.

    • Posted by Johnny Oh Ima on

      There’s no increase in taxes, enough about your taxes, every Nunavut community deserves the same services and standard that you all enjoy in the south. Taxes isn’t everything you know.

      • Posted by Oh YaMa on

        Every time you post your ignorance of Canada comes through. Nunavut often has better standards of infrastructure than most rural areas of southern Canada. Canada wastes a colossal amount of taxes in this jurisdiction and I am thanking Canadians for building this, since it wasn’t NTI and it certainly wasn’t Nunavummuit taxes paying for it.

        • Posted by Captain Canada on

          Most Canadian think Canada is only in the southern part of Canada, close to the US boarder, never mind the rest of the country.
          A huge problem and the wrong way to think about Canada, it’s what keeps this country from being a greater country, it’s like southern Canadians what to be like the US while being Canadian. Crazy way of thinking and not very practical.

  3. Posted by Future Shock on

    How long until the Nunatsiaq newsroom is run predominately by AI?

  4. Posted by Bill Tagalik on

    the article states that Nunavut leaders hope to see lower prices for goods ahahaha

  5. Posted by Northener on

    So whats happening with the ferry service from iqaluit to labrador?

    • Posted by Anon on

      Been cancelled

  6. Posted by Jim on

    Nunatsiaq news, how come you are not asking why the Neas ship is not docked and off loading directly from the deep sea port? Still using its barge to off load. The ship came in and docked for the photo op and then went back out in the bay to off load.
    Like our nutrition north program the savings will be deposited into the companies accounts.

    • Posted by And one more thing on

      Who is the Port Authority? Is there an established office?

      • Posted by Mr. Busybody on

        Would you like to speak to the manager?

    • Posted by Tin dipper on

      “An NEAS Arctic Sealift ship — the Qamutik — which had been anchored in the bay outside of Iqaluit since July 19, docked at the port Tuesday morning and began unloading goods. By late afternoon the ship had left the port.” The ship didn’t unload anything, in reality the ship(s) will not be unloading as would be expected while docked beside port. This was purely for the official opening and photo op. Although this new port will help expedite delivery here in Iqaluit, it still uses the archaic tug/barge system, even it is now now faster. Seems like a significant oversight. Maybe its just me? I think the public is being mislead both by the article and suggestion by politicians that this new port is somehow going to decrease the cost of shipping or the goods shipped via the sea. Not likely going to be the reality.

      • Posted by Devil’s Avocado on

        It’s probably not going to make a difference until the next sealift contract comes up for renewal, whenever that is.

        There are new facts on the ground that could lead to savings, assuming the operators rise to the challenge, or are forced to do so by market forces.

        You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

  7. Posted by Transport & Shipping Services on

    The sealift company’s certainly cannot keep up with transportation demand of materials and equipment to remote ports. The sealift generally delivery goods and services to most ports by early spring June; not this current shipping company’s. There should be two different shipping company’s to focus on Baffin and Kivalliq region. The Baffin may have better service from port of Montreal, and Kivalliq port of Churchill.

    This would certainly save more budget and time to complete infrastructures that are overdue due to present shipping company’s of NNSI and NEAs.

    Suggestion how this service can improved transportation and services?

    • Posted by Hunter on

      Yes, New Shipping Company owned and operated by the three regional Inuit Organizations out of Nunavut. KIA with QIA and KIA should set up Nunavut’s first and only joint venture sealift shipping company.

      They should look at contracting one or two ships to provide service to a limited number of communities in the early years of this new venture then as business picks up and their space is booked up, contract other ships to service more communities in Nunavut.

      With mining royalties starting to roll in the three regions, this really should be investigated.

      • Posted by Johnny Oh Ima on

        You should take over Harry, David and Charlie and run the corporations!

  8. Posted by Steve on

    I work a lot with NEAS during the sealift season, and I wanted to give them a shout out for doing such an amazing job. Great people to work with. I remember the last sail in October, last year. There was some bad weather and the ship got delayed getting out. Hopefully this port makes it easier for them when this happens. All the best to guys.

    • Posted by Skunk Works Services on

      Yeah!?! well, the GN cannot appear to keep up with paperwork demands with this new territory! The executives and DM’s appear to be failing which lacks many services, and infrastructures… just take a peek at sealift materials still sitting in ports.

      • Posted by Johnny Oh Ima on

        ya most of the executives are non-Nunavumuit and I am being polite by my comment.

  9. Posted by Territory? on

    Do they forget there is a western part of Nunavut ? Please explain how this will lower prices ACROSS the territory.

    • Posted by Boohoo on

      Always crying our cousins in the west, try holding your hands out higher maybe you’ll get something, better yet put some work into what you need, elect better leaders that won’t quit before their terms are up.
      This region really needs to grow up.

  10. Posted by Iqalummiut on

    How will costs decrease if all the prices are locked in by monopolies?

Comments are closed.