Snowmobile safety a concern for Iqaluit residents



IQALUIT — Some Iqaluit residents no longer feel safe walking the streets of Iqaluit because of the erratic driving habits of some snowmobile owners.

“There’s times I have been hit in the elbow by a mirror or by a skidoo passing me,” says Iqaluit resident Barry Cornthwaite, who says that walking home from work can be a dangerious experience.

Long-time Iqaluit resident Annie Nattaq feels that snowmobilers should drive slowly instead of speeding inside the boundaries of the town.

“There’s always pedestians and snowmobilers. I prefer that if they ride their skidoos, to drive at normal speed within Iqaluit,” Nattaq says.

Iqaluit Town Councillor Mathew Spence says he believes that these concerns are valid.

“Last year, in 1998, we started a plan to use that would identify skidoo trails for the downtown area.”

Spence says skidoo trails need to be clearly identified, and that the best thing to do is to encourage people to use snowmobile trails instead of Iqaluit’s roads.

Not only do Iqaluit residents feel that safety is a concern, but also who exactly are driving snowmobiles on Iqaluit streets.

Iqaluit resident Geosah Uniuqsaraq said young people are driving skidoos around town too dangerously. He wishes that they would be more careful, Uniusaraq says.

When it gets dark out at night anything can happen: “It worries me, I would like it if someone could stress to the young people that skidoo’s are not toys.”

Jonathan Ellsworth, a bylaw enforcement officer for the town of Iqaluit, said he has only stopped one snowmobiler for speeding.

“If we had more staff, we might be able to do more, but with both of us driving around we probably couldn’t catch them cause they can just go on a trail and we would lose them” Ellsworth says.

Another safety-related concern is whether or not snowmobile drivers have proper insurance.

“I would like it if they had insurance. It would help, especially if they had hit something, so that they could replace the value of the damage they might have caused,” Tikivik says.

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