Shipping issues leave greenhouses destined for Arctic communities stuck in Inuvik

The executive director of Inuvik's community greenhouse says a pair of greenhouses destined for Tuktoyaktuk and Ulukhaktok remain stuck in Inuvik, and that the shipper has refused to acknowledge its expensive mistake.

Director of Inuvik greenhouse says shipper said there's no proof greenhouses didn't reach destinations

Ray Solotki, the executive director of the Inuvik Community Greenhouse, says that they're feeling 'a little bit lost,' when it comes to how to ship the greenhouses to Tuktoyaktuk and Ulukhaktok. 'There's got to be some sort of solution. This isn't our field.' (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

The executive director of Inuvik's community greenhouse says a pair of greenhouses destined for Tuktoyaktuk and Ulukhaktok remain stuck in Inuvik, and that the shipper has refused to acknowledge its mistake.

This summer, both communities were set to receive geodesic dome greenhouses, purchased by the territorial government. The greenhouses would be the first of their kind in the communities, and "are more suited to operating longer in the year… they are much more suited to the Arctic," according to Ray Solotki, the Inuvik Community Greenhouse's executive director.

The greenhouses were ordered from the closest location possible — KingDome Inc Greenhouses, in the United States — and cost $11,000 each, with a large portion of the cost for shipping.

All seemed to be in place until last week, when Solotki received a phone call from Tuktoyaktuk, telling her the greenhouse had not arrived.

"I received a shipping notification that they are there," she said. "They are in Inuvik, and they are stuck in Manitoulin [Transport, a shipping company].

"We paid for them to go to Ulu [Ulukhaktok], we paid for them to go to Tuk, and now they are in Inuvik," she said. "They weigh a thousand pounds. This isn't something we can just magically get to the communities."

Solotki says that the freight transportation company they used, Saia, wouldn't answer phone calls from either Solotki or the supplier after they found out how much it would cost to fly the greenhouses to the communities.

According to Manitoulin Transport, as of Thursday, the greenhouses destined for Tuktoyaktuk and Ulukhaktok are inside these two crates in Inuvik. (submitted by Manitoulin Transport)

"They actually have told the seller that they don't believe it's not where it's supposed to be, and how do they have proof it's not in Ulu and Tuk," said Solotki.

"It's now the middle of August and the barges to Ulukhaktok have already left. We can't put them on a road to Ulu, and for us to put them on a plane, it's now $3,700 to ship."

Solotki said that the greenhouse destined for Tuktoyaktuk will be placed on the last barge of the season, which leaves next Monday. The greenhouse will then attempt to bill the shipper. She's still unsure how the other greenhouse will make it to Ulukhaktok.

"The American transportation company should be covering, because that's what they quoted us," she said. "So now it's a case of who pays for it.​

"It feels like there are these roadblocks that keep coming up for something that should be such a positive and community-oriented situation. There's got to be some sort of solution. This isn't our field. We all just feel a little bit lost."

CBC News attempted to contact Saia for this story, but did not receive a response.


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