Iqaluit City Council decided Wednesday night to take money out of the city's reserves so firefighters can begin working on extinguishing the dump fire.

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Iqaluit City Council decided Wednesday night to take money out of the city's reserves so firefighters can begin working on extinguishing the dump fire. (CBC)

To pay for the estimated $2.2 million firefighting plan of attack, the Government of Nunavut has agreed to give the city an advance of about $1.6 million on money already owed to the municipality by the territorial government. The city will draw $500,000 from its unrestricted reserves, and more if the project goes over budget.

That's 11.35 per cent of the city's total unencumbered reserve of $4,404,155.91. The city will take 11.35 per cent from every project in that category. 

Councillor Terry Dobbin asked during the meeting why the unencumbered reserve was far less than the GN stated it was in a letter sent last week. In that letter, the GN said the city had more than $11 million in its reserves, including $7.5 million that could be used at council's discretion.

As Councillor Stephen Mansell explains it, the GN only considered restricted money in the reserves to be the money that is legally or contractually committed. But the city's finance committee also counted about $2.7 million in loans for the aquatic centre and about $1.5 million for "vital approved projects or emergencies."

In total, he says the restricted reserves are actually $7,402,532.80, leaving a total unencumbered reserve of $4,404,155.91.

The grand total of the money in reserves (both restricted and not restricted) is $11,806,688.71.

Fire chief Luc Grandmaison says crews will start work immediately but actual firefighting won't begin for at least a week and a half.

"You will see work being done immediately on the landfill site, for us to have access to our ponds, et cetera," he said. "So there will be work, but no firefighting work, until probably the 18th or the 20th of August, if everything goes well."

Maxine Carroll, of the advocacy group "Iqalummiut for Action," says the news is encouraging but says she's ready to see action.

"Our hope is that there won't be any more administrative delays that could prevent the implementation of this plan."