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KRG wants action on police stations now

Fix our police stations or we may pull out of policing, KRG says

By JANE GEORGE

The Kativik Regional Government is upping the ante in its push to see new fire stations built in Nunavik.

“We’re saying we have to address the issue,” said KRG chairman Johnny Adams.

If Ottawa and Quebec don’t agree to pay for the new stations by the end of March, the KRG may give six-months notice that it intends to stop supplying police services to the region.

This would oblige the Quebec provincial police, the Sûreté du Québec, to take over policing in all Nunavik communities.

“It’s an option we’re looking at,” Adams said.

The KRG wants 11 new stations built in Nunavik. These would replace the decrepit, second-hand trailers still used by the Kativik Regional Police Force in many communities.

To build these new stations, it would cost $1.5 million a year over 20 years, an expense the provincial and federal governments would share.

Quebec has agreed to fund its 45 per cent share of building the new stations and pay for more police officers — but Adams said the federal government doesn’t want to commit to any new money until it’s time to start talks on renewing Nunavik’s aboriginal policing agreement.

“Quebec agreed in the next two years we would have an additional 11 officers, and they agreed to the construction of 11 new police stations over the next three years, but Canada is holding off until the agreement runs out next year,” Adams said.

Last October, inspectors from the workers’ health and safety board of Quebec, the Commission de la santé et la sécurité du travail, closed down two police stations in Nunavik.

As a result, police in Puvirnituq relocated their offices to the community’s recreational centre while Akulivik’s sole constable began taking calls in his home.

The CSST also singled out police stations in Kuujjuaraapik, Umiujaq, Ivujivik and Salluit for repairs.

Most police stations in Nunavik are trailers, which were bought second-hand in 1995 from the provincial police force.

“Since they were using them, we figured they were in decent shape,” Adams said.

But Adams has since learned there had already been complaints made to the CSST about the deplorable state of the trailers prior to the transfer.

As part of the implementation of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, the James Bay Cree recently received an additional $6.8 million to build seven new police stations in their territory and renovate two others for their native police force.

But the JBNQA doesn’t call for a similar investment in police stations in Nunavik.

In 2000, the KRG was to build a new police station in Puvirnituq, but it dropped this project due to a lack of money.

The five-year $32 million funding agreement signed in 1998 was supposed to help pay for improved police stations, but due to the expense of meeting stiff building codes, only Inukjuak received a new station.

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