Tower Arctic pleads not guilty to charges it faces under Nunavut Safety Act

Construction company faces six charges under the act after 2018 incident in Pond Inlet

Appearing before a justice of the peace, a lawyer for Tower Arctic Ltd. pleaded not guilty to six charges it faces under the Nunavut Safety Act on Thursday, Jan. 9. (File photo)

By Emma Tranter

Appearing before a justice of the peace at the Nunavut courthouse in Iqaluit on Thursday, Jan. 9, Tower Arctic Ltd., an Iqaluit-based construction company, pleaded not guilty to six charges it faces under the Nunavut Safety Act.

The charges, filed by the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, are in connection with an incident in Pond Inlet at the Tower Arctic shop and garage work site that took place on Sept. 19, 2018.

On that day, a worker suffered serious injuries while using a hand-held grinder to make cuts into the top of a metal barrel. Sparks from the grinder ignited chemical residue contained in the barrel, causing an explosion, the WSCC said at the time.

In 2018, Tower Arctic, which is listed on Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.’s registry of Inuit-owned companies and is on the Government of Nunavut’s list of Nunavut companies, won a $89-million contract for Iqaluit and Pond Inlet marine projects: a small-craft harbour at Pond Inlet and a deep-sea port and small-craft harbour in Iqaluit.

As listed in an Aug. 30, 2018, WSCC release, the alleged offences include failing to:

• take all reasonable precautions and adopt and carry out all reasonable techniques and procedures to ensure the health and safety of every person.
• arrange for the use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances in a manner that protects the health and safety of workers.
• provide information, instruction, training and supervision that was necessary to protect the health and safety of workers.
• ensure that work being done was sufficiently and competently supervised.
• ensure that supervisors have completed an approved regulatory familiarization program.
• ensure that a worker was trained in matters necessary to protect the health and safety of workers at a work site.

None of these charges have been proven in court.

Speaking over the phone, Kevin MacNeill, the defence counsel for Tower Arctic, asked Justice of the Peace Nicole Sikma to bring the matter back to the court in three weeks.

“We’ve been undertaking resolution discussions with Mr. Reynolds of the Crown,” MacNeill said, referring to prosecutor Larry Reynolds.

“The Crown has asked that my client enter a plea on the six accounts before the court. We are prepared to do that today,” MacNeill said.

MacNeill told the court that Tower Arctic pleads not guilty on all six charges.

Once a trial for the case is scheduled, it is estimated to take seven days, MacNeill said.

Tower Arctic’s next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 3 at 9:30 a.m. at the Nunavut Court of Justice.

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