GN refuses to grant new money for dumpcano plan
The territory says city should have enough money to put out the dump fire on its own
The Nunavut government says the City of Iqaluit should have enough money to put out the dump fire on its own.
Iqaluit city councillors held an extra meeting this morning to discuss the city's $2.6 million dollar plan to extinguish the fire at the dump.
At the city's last regular meeting, councillors approved the plan, provided that other levels of government help finance it.
A working group made up of territorial and municipal officials planned to meet in private to talk about the best way to extinguish the fire and to decide how much financial and logistical help the Government of Nunavut can provide.
But that meeting was cancelled and the Minister of Community Services released a letter to the city's acting mayor this morning expressing his disappointment.
In the letter, the government says the city has more than $11 million in its reserves, including $7.5 million that can be used at council's discretion.
Minister Tom Sammurtok says that should be more than enough to cover the cost of extinguishing the fire.
The GN says it's already provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment to the city to help fight the fire and will make sure the city gets any money that it's owed from the government, as soon as possible. But it will not agree to give any additional money to pay to put out the fire.
The City says it already has plans for much of the money in its reserves and those plans will need to be re-worked if the money is spent on the dump fire.
Iqaluit's fire chief Luc Grandmaison is now estimating it will cost closer to $3.3 million to put the fire out. He says he can't guarantee what the final price tag will be.
Councillors agree the fire must be put out as soon as possible and say they will find the money somehow.
A Vancouver-based consultant has proposed building a large pond and filling it with seawater. Excavators would take load after load of burning waste and dunk it in the pool to quench it.
The city has been criticized for taking too long to deal with the toxic mess. But officials say it's already taking steps to make sure this kind of situation doesn't happen again.
"Public safety is my main concern," says Joe Brown, who is in charge of how Iqaluit manages its trash. He says a new order to separate flammable material from regular trash is key to preventing another fire eruption.
"It's more environmentally friendly. And it really has to happen, separation has to happen. it makes it easier for us to manage a landfill."
Brown says the wood and cardboard are helping to fuel the fire. Now the city will keep those flammable materials apart from the rest.
Tests have found trace amounts of dangerous chemicals in Iqaluit's air. Nunavut's Health Department is warning people to stay indoors and avoid the smoke.
"Giving the advice of just going inside to avoid the dump smoke tells me that people don't really understand the real lived lives of Inuit here," says Janet Brewster of Iqalummiut for Action, a social media campaign calling for the city to kill the fire.
Brewster says her group has spearheaded a letter-writing campaign for people to voice their concerns about the dump fire.