Mayor to lead Iqaluit’s public safety committee

“We want to make sure people feel safe when they’re within our city,” says Mayor Kenny Bell

Iqaluit city council is creating a new public safety committee. (File photo)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A growing city needs to face growing safety concerns, says Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell, who was named chairperson of the city’s new public safety committee this week.

Iqaluit council voted Tuesday to create the new committee, an idea that arose more than a year ago after the violent deaths of two women.

“For a city that is growing like ours, public safety is obviously paramount,” Bell said in an interview. “We want to make sure people feel safe when they’re within our city.”

Deputy mayor Janet Pitsiulaaq Brewster will serve as the committee’s vice-chairperson.

The purpose of the committee is to identify public safety concerns within the city, relay those concerns to the agencies with oversight into those problems and educate residents about their responsibilities, according to the committee’s terms of reference.

The committee will be made up of nine members and a representative from city administration, with the option to add more members in the future.

The committee will include representatives from the RCMP, Qikiqtani Inuit Association, Nunavut Black History Society, Department of Justice, Family Services, and from the city’s homeless shelters. Members will serve three-year terms.

Brewster said she also wants to see a representative specifically for youth, and another for women.

“We know that women and children and youth are most at-risk in this community, and I think that if we ensure that we have a spot for somebody representing women, that would be really important, and as well as a youth representative,” Brewster said.

Coun. Romeyn Stevenson suggested that two spots that are designated for “community support groups” could be used to fill that void.

Bell confirmed the changes would be in the final draft.

Now that the committee has been created, Bell said, the city will reach out to organizations to select representatives.

He said there isn’t a set date, but that the committee could sit within the next month.

In February 2020, council revisited the idea of a public safety committee following violent incidents in which RCMP charged a man with second-degree murder after a 43-year-old woman was found dead in a Nunavut Arctic College housing unit, and another man was charged with attempted murder of a 37-year-old woman.

At the time, Bell said the city used to have a public safety committee and that he’d like to see the adoption of a new one.

Coun. Kyle Sheppard, who said he was the chairperson of the last public safety committee, proposed the motion and Coun. Joanasie Akumalik seconded it.

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