New Kangirsuk municipal building falling apart


KANGIRSUK — The Quebec government is spending millions of dollars to bring municipal infrastructure in Nunavik up to scratch.

But residents of Kangirsuk may also pay a heavy price for this progress.

Their glitzy new $700,000 municipal building is already cracking into pieces after only two years, and they’re concerned the municipality may have to cover the bill to repair the shoddy, and possibly dangerous, building.

“I’m glad I’m insured,” said municipal employee Elsie Simigak, whose office walls are marked with deep cracks.

When she looks around, it’s not hard for her to imagine that the walls could collapse.

One crack above a door frame is so large that the wiring underneath is clearly visible. There’s another huge crack running horizontally behind Simigak’s computer. The paint is peeling off where the walls have shifted, and the window appears to be buckling.

“I’m worried about what will happen in the spring, because it’ll get worse,” Simigak said.

Mayor Joseph Annahatak, and secretary-treasurer Noah Ningiuruvik are also concerned about the state of their building. Every room has a crack, and almost every day these become larger.

“It’s a safety issue,” Ningiuruvik said. “We’re worried that the windows will explode.”

Jean Corbeil, an engineer with the Kativik Regional Government, said a poorly compacted pad probably caused the building’s shifting. Corbeil said it’s important to apply thin layers of fill and then compact them thoroughly to avoid the kind of problems affecting Kangirsuk’s municipal office.

The building, said Corbeil, will likely continue to shift, causing the cracks to enlarge even further. Possible long-term solutions may involve jacking up part of the building, filling in the cracks, repainting the interior and rehanging the doors or windows.

But these are potentially expensive solutions the town doesn’t want to pay for because it that maintains the contractor didn’t do its job properly by making sure the site was solid.

Before the new office was put up, the municipality prepared the building site. A Quebec City-based contractor, Les Habitations Durab Inc., then went ahead with the building’s construction.

Less than a year later, a representative from Durab visited Kangirsuk.

“As you know, we have built a new municipal office as you requested in the agreement of August 28th 1998. This spring we went there to make different adjustments to the building. At this time, we took notice of a little problem with the basement (footing) because we have adjusted doors and it seems to us that the soil moved during winter,” Alain Bolduc noted at that time. “You will understand the purpose of that notice is only to provide you information to watch for the future to avoid problem with your building.”

According to the town authorities, Durab has refused to accept any responsibility for the building’s current state.

But they say the construction company should have made sure the pad was correctly laid before starting work, and they’re considering legal action against the company.

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