Kimmirut arena plans on ice until waste site cleaned up

Mayor accuses Nunavut of stalling over money


Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT — The mayor of Kimmirut says the Nunavut government is stalling his hamlet’s hockey arena project because the territory is short on cash.

“All the added costs to relocating employees as part of decentralization are really biting into funding,” said Kimmirut Mayor Mickey Akavak.

Kimmirut will be not be getting any jobs from the Nunavut governernment’s decentralization plan.

But Akavak sees the arena as a possible source of jobs. It was promised to his community by the GNWT in 1998, and hamlet councillors had hoped construction on the arena could begin this summer.

But the Department of Community government says the delay has little to do with money and everything to do with a sewage lagoon and solid waste site close to where the Kimmirut council wants to put the new arena.

“If we had a windfall or won the 649 we’re not going to be able to build the arena this summer,” says Mike Ferris, the deputy minister of community government.

The Chief Medical Officer for Nunavut, Dr. Ann Roberts, said the proposed arena site is too close to the hamlet’s aging sewage lagoon and garbage dump, Ferris said.

He also said the lagoon will first have to be remediated, and a new lagoon constructed before a new arena can be built, he said, and there are still important design steps that would also have to be done first.

According to a letter from Ferris’s department, there are two possible locations for the arena.

One location, near Soper Lake and well away from the waste site, would have allowed construction to start this summer. That option would have cost about $2 million, Ferris said.

The other site, in Kimmirut’s South Valley, will cost about $4 million. That’s the site the hamlet wants, but it’s more expensive, Ferris said, because clean-up work on the waste sites will have to begin immediately.

Ferris said the Soper site is also cheaper because geotechnical work has already been done there. Ferris says his department doesn’t care which site is chosen, and is not trying to get the council to change its mind.

“They’ve just re-confirmed that South Valley is their choice and the minister is quite prepared to accept that because that’s a local council decision. But, in doing that, that has brought into play concerns regarding the health and safety of the people using that facility.”

But to Akavak the health concerns are a red herring. He says the GNWT never mentioned the proximity of the arena to the waste sites when it looked at the project.

He said the Soper Lake location is too far away from the rest of the community, and would require stringing power lines a considerable distance from the hamlet’s generating plant. He also said that he believes the geology of most comunities in Nunavut is relatively similar, and didn’t think think any more geotechnical work is necessary.

“The Health department has been doing an awful lot of work on it for the last two weeks. Well we’ve been working on it the last two years,” said Akavak.

He said the arena is necessary to maintain the health of his community. He said there is only an outdoor rink for people in the community to use in the winter.

“We need to find some way for us to keep healthy and get some exercise,” Akavak said.

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