Nunavut government says no to community closures

A government of Nunavut official says the commuity government department is working with the hamlet of Clyde River to solve the hamlet’s financial problems.



IQALUIT — The closure of Nunavut’s financially troubled, “hard-luck” municipalities is not being contemplated, an official with the Nunavut government’s Department of Community Government said this week.

“I don’t think there’s any discussion of that in the government at any level,” said Peter Scott, the Baffin regional superintendent for the department.

Scott was responding to questions about a draft report prepared by Avery Cooper and Associates Ltd. for the Nunavut government on a debt recovery for Clyde River. The report said the “future existence” of some communities in Nunavut may have to be reviewed.

But the opinion expressed in the report was that of the author and not the Nunavut government, he said.

“Keep in mind that was a draft report,” said Scott.

A subsequent report filed by Avery Cooper did not contain the remark about the future existence of some communities.

“I feel any community could be viable. But the funding and resources have to be managed,” Scott said.

To help Clyde River manage its resources, the territorial government has followed another suggestion in the Avery Cooper report and given the hamlet funding to hire a financial controller. Scott said the Avery Cooper consulting firm had expressed frustration in trying to solve Clyde River’s problems because the hamlet’s financial records were not up to date.

The hamlet had not made adjusting entries as a result of an audit last year, Scott said.

“You have to have a starting point, before you go forward,” Scott said.

Scott said that he thinks that with the proper controls on spending, “it would not take an awful lot to bring everything up to snuff,” in Clyde River.

Another recommendation in the report — specialized funding formulas for certain hamlets — is being considered. Scott said his department is reviewing the funding formulas for communities in Nunavut.

“If you have a large formula and you don’t have all of the data, or there is an error, it will result in an error in funding,” Scott cited a recent mistake that was found in the amount of funding for Qikiqtarjuak as an example — an error in estimating the length of the hamlet’s roads.

Once that was corrected, Qikiqtarjuak’s funding problems improved, Scott said.

Officials at the municipality of Clyde River have attributed much of their financial trouble to a mistake in the GNWT’s water and sewage subsidy. They also have also said they do not get enough revenue from the territorial government to cover all of their operating expenses.

However, Scott stressed that the government is not supposed to provide all of the revenue a community needs. But he acknowledged that some communities have greater difficulty than others in raising extra cash.

“I think in the smaller communities, there has to be some recognition that the smaller the community, the smaller the opportunities for generating extra revenue,” Scott said.

He said there are a number of capital projects coming to the hamlet next year, including improvements to the hamlet’s airport and further work on the municipality’s wharf.

He suggested that perhaps opportunities for economic development and extra revenue lay in tourism or equipment rentals.

“I don’t know what the answer or the solution is, but it has to come from the community,” Scott said.

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