Procedural setbacks leave rescue boat shelter unfinished in Cambridge Bay

Hamlet now has to restart lot development process

Here you can see Cambridge Bay’s new rescue boat, the MV Kruger, beside the Quonset hut that was supposed to shelter the vessel during the winter. But a stop-work order was handed down by the Government of Nunavut in September after a local resident raised his concerns in Iqaluit. This means the Quonset remains unfinished. No work will resume now until the hamlet amends its zoning bylaw for open spaces, and the developer applies again for a development permit and then obtains a building permit. (Photo by Jane George)

By Jane George

CAMBRIDGE BAY—A half-finished Quonset hut by the shore in Cambridge Bay has become a visual reminder of this western Nunavut town’s growing pains.

Construction work on the structure, which was intended to shelter its new Coast Guard auxiliary rescue boat, was shut down in mid-September.

The exchanges of emails that led to this work stoppage reveal missteps as this growing community of about 1,800 moves ahead with its ambitious development plans.

Meanwhile, the future of the Quonset structure, whose walls were flapping in 70-kilometre winds this past weekend, remains uncertain.

In August, Gordon Bligh, who lives across the street from the site, noticed that many big rocks had been pushed out beyond the high-water mark and that a pad was being prepared there.

At that point, he said he wasn’t even aware that in April the hamlet had established lease boundaries and later approved a development permit for the lot.

Bligh tried to get municipal officials to respond to his various concerns about the site and its preparation, saying work had “created a safety hazard for those that will not remember that there are huge boulders in that area for this skidoo season.”

Bligh said he was also concerned that the hamlet had altered their lot development and land use plan, which is completed though community meetings and consultations.

Bligh wrote the hamlet repeated emails but he said he felt his concerns were brushed off.

Bligh then wrote a letter on Sept. 13 to Constance Hourie, the deputy minister of Nunavut’s community and government services department.

On Oct. 4, Hourie wrote back to Bligh.

She confirmed that the proposed development of the lot did not conform to the hamlet’s open-space zoning bylaw.

That’s because the maximum area for any building is 36 square metres and the maximum height is four metres on such an open-space lot—”both of which are exceeded by the Quonset building,” she said.

The municipality will be required to amend its zoning bylaw to allow the Quonset to go up. This will require a public hearing, Hourie said.

After that, the auxiliary will have to apply for a new development permit once the zoning bylaw has been approved, she said.

This process will offer Bligh two occasions “to address your concerns to the municipality regarding this project,” she said.

By the time Hourie answered Bligh, work had been stopped on the Quonset.

The Government of Nunavut building officer, Mel Bursey, had stopped by to deliver a stop-work order on the construction for the first time shortly after Bligh wrote to Hourie.

The stop-work order was delivered to Wilf Wilcox, the contractor on the Quonset construction and owner of Jago Services Ltd., as well as the unit leader of the Coast Guard auxiliary.

That move to stop construction took place around the time when the auxiliary held its low-key Sept. 14 official “launch” of the new boat, the MV Kruger, named after Jack Kruger, a former RCMP officer and Coast Guard auxiliary trainer, who died in 2014 at 68.

Since Nunavut’s building act came into force last year, every new construction must obtain a building permit.

But, among other things, the Quonset building appears to lack that permit.

The hamlet now plans to move ahead with a meeting to amend its zoning bylaw after the new mayor and councillors are elected on Oct. 28.

Wilcox is among those running in the election for a seat on Cambridge Bay’s municipal council.

Some in Cambridge Bay suggest that the Quonset should be moved to the other side of the bay, near the tank farm. That’s where the Martin Bergmann research vessel is pulled out of the water in the winter and where there is a suitable ramp for the rescue boat to enter the water.

The rescue boat arrived this summer after Rankin Inlet, Gjoa Haven and Cambridge Bay received $1 million in 2018 to purchase search and rescue boats and equipment through the federal government’s Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program.

Cambridge Bay’s Coast Guard auxiliary then received additional money in 2019 from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to have the Silver Dolphin aluminum-hulled boat shipped and to cover the costs of the lot’s land lease, about $56,000.

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(10) Comments:

  1. Posted by Inuk on

    Hamlet’s need to work on their accountability all over Nunavut.
    I agree, they brush off any concerns raised by their local citizens who they are supposed to represent. They think we don’t know much and are belittled by the council and staff.

  2. Posted by Hmmmm on

    So, let me get this straight, a building appeared, on a lot that did not exist, that did not conform to a hamlet bylaw and did not posess a building permit. And the hamlet, the council and cgs allowed this all to happen. Isnt there a problem as well with land claim agreement and the hundred food high tide rule? So now we are the netherlands and can reclaim land? Who agreeed to all of this? Why is this building not down already? And the hamlets reaction is lets just change the bylaws? I for one am looking forward to the open, public conversation on this. I had no idea Hamlets could create land out of the ocean. Wow!

  3. Posted by Buzzard on

    Hunters are not ignorant of seeing the dangers of the ice or land let alone boulders that have been moved. So By-Law will stop the construction of an important equipment shelter to not put in danger no-visual … You lost me here. Lives are at…

    • Posted by safety first on

      Good point Buzzard, except I am not sure about the important equipment shelter, because if it was that important, would the proper constructions rules have been followed? The area is only for storage, but the look of the picture, the boat has to be moved significantly even to launch it…so in the hour it takes to maneuver the boat into the water somewhere else, lives are at stake. Those boulders do look big, what did the area look like before the white elephant arrived? A lot of money changed hands to put “an important equipment shelter” in the wrong, most unuseful place. Who benefited the most from this?

  4. Posted by Wilf Wilcox on

    The Cambridge Bay Coast Guard auxiliary unit is working through some tough issues. We have had a good working relationship with the Hamlet and have been in this location for 20 years or so. I was surprised that there is zoning issues but I guess we will work through these issues. we believe this federal program is one of the greatest programs for search and rescue. If this program continues and we really hope it does many Communities will benefit and lives will be saved, many good training opportunities will be created and skills developed. we have been very careful not to do things wrong. If this shelter arrived on the barge the year before there wouldn’t have been a permit issue, the shelter would be complete but the barge never arrived. We will work with the Hamlet and our neighbors to optimize our presence the same way as we always. we have a conscientious group in our Unit and we are proud auxilarists.

  5. Posted by Wilf Wilcox on

    I wanted to add
    – this is a winter storage unit
    – We generally have another boat in the water
    – Undertaking a rescue does take planning and coordination especially if the distances are long.
    – This Boat may be moored next summer so it is at the ready. Its new the Unit has to figure out these and other important operational matters.
    – We are a volunteer unit so we went with a simple storage unit. easy to erect and to maintain.
    – We are working with permitting people to move forward.

  6. Posted by Hmmmm on

    the coast guard is a necessary piece, but if i am reading yOu correctly, the errors in the permitting and lot creation sit only with the hamlet. Are you also saying that the building was purchased last year? So the hamlet knew last year they were holland? The building does not appear to be holding to the 5 m from each side set backs that buildings are required to follow. If the hamlet allowed you to build this, without following their own rules, you should be very very mad at them. In the past when errors of set backs have happened the building was removed and restructured. This should be happening here. However good a cause, the hamlet land office is required to do their job, the administrative oversite did not happen. This lot should not have been created. It put everyone in as bad a position as the white elephant on the bay.

  7. Posted by Will we have to pay later on

    No where in this story does it indicate the Hamlet enlisted any professional services to ensure that the tenant will not be flooded out in a couple of years. Parts of this road are under threat by the sea. Given the location, that is possible, and given the Hamlet built the lot, would they not be liable for any damages to the property or equipment if this should happen? Is it not the SAO’s responsibility to protect the Hamlet residents from this?

    • Posted by winter on

      I see all the comments about this and my 2 cents worth, why doesn’t coast guard into consideration the hunters and campers like to use this popular area for bringing their camping and hunting gear up by the old hudson’s bay store. Make sense to store this elephant at the new tank farm like the others. Dangerous for frolics time also for ski-doo racers.

  8. Posted by safety first on

    I checked in to the wording of the Article 14 and part 5. The land claim certainly allows the high water mark area to be used and managed by municipalities, but it doesn’t mention allowing the municipality to create landmass and then lease it out. Boulders were added, dirt was added and the coastline changed. If the Hamlets can do that, why are we not pushing out to protect cabin areas being eroded and power lines that climate change and high tides now have in the ocean. It seems like a confusing place to take a stand on protecting the shoreline by adding to it and raising it. Doesn’t anyone in the regulatory business care? Two wrongs don’t make a right. Move it.

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