Walking the best solution to Iqaluit’s traffic problems


I was interested to read the article concerning the traffic jams in Iqaluit, and the proposed solutions outlined in the story in the Sept. 16, 2005 edition of your paper.

I was disappointed but not surprised to see that no one proposed that more of the residents of Iqaluit walk to and from work, school and so on.

Some of the newer developments in the city are a few kilometers from most of the office buildings, and residents of Apex would not be expected to trek to and from Iqaluit each day. However, for most of the Iqalungmiut, the walk to and from work or school would not take more than 20-25 minutes, even with bad weather.

The article suggested that staggering lunch hours for even 10 per cent of the drivers would have a significant impact on the traffic at Four Corners.

If 10 per cent of the drivers and their passengers walked to and from work it would significantly reduce traffic and would have other major health benefits: weight reduction, improved cardio-respiratory fitness levels, reduced pollution, etc. If more residents of Iqaluit walked, it might also persuade the city to install sidewalks, which would be of benefit to everybody.

Obesity and life-style related diseases are becoming a major health problem in Nunavut, as they are in all jurisdictions in Canada. The less physical activity that people have in their everyday lives, the greater the tendency to gain excess weight.

In pre-settlement days, Inuit not only ate healthy country food but also lived extremely physically active lives on the land gathering food and frequently traveling from one seasonal camp to another.

The transition to settlements has brought a sedentary lifestyle along with a plethora of unhealthy “southern” food. This lifestyle change will have many negative impacts on the population just as it has had in other aboriginal populations, as well as in the general Canadian population. This sedentary lifestyle produces increased rates of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and so on, and has already done so across the world.

All of the residents of Nunavut (Inuit and non-Inuit) should take the old active lifestyle of the original inhabitants of Nunavut as a model for our approach to physical activity now.

Walking to and from work or school would be an easy way to incorporate more physical activity into our everyday lives. More regular physical activity would improve our health and reduce the demands on Iqaluit’s overused road network.

Dr. Sandy Macdonald
Director of Medical Affairs

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