Iqaluit port could open by 2020, government officials say

The Government of Nunavut says Iqaluit's port project is once again back on track. It's set to include a deep water port and improvements to the city's breakwater.

Project set to include deep water port, improvements to city's breakwater, says Nunavut government

The Government of Nunavut's preliminary plans for a port in Iqaluit. (Government of Nunavut)

The Government of Nunavut says Iqaluit's port project is back on track.

The former Conservative government promised $63.7 million for a port in Iqaluit in July, but when it lost the federal election, the fate of the project became unclear. 

Now Jim Stevens, assistant deputy minister for Nunavut's Department of Economic Development and Transportation, says federal funding for the project is in place and it's going to move forward.

Included in the plan are improvements to the city's breakwater, to allow dock space and 24 hour access to open water. (Government of Nunavut)

"Since the federal announcement by the previous government we have had two or three exchanges via email and correspondence confirming that the federal commitment of their funding portion is intact," says Stevens.

He says the project is set to include a deep water port, with one fixed berth and a secondary off-loading wharf.

Improvements to the city's breakwater, to allow dock space and 24-hour access to open water, are also planned.

Port dreams

Iqalummiut have been dreaming of a deep sea port for decades. In 2006, federal ministers had a proposal — complete with designs and economic impacts — for seven ports around the territory. The total cost would have been $41 million over five years, but didn't come to fruition.

The project is set to include a deep water port, with one fixed birth and a secondary off-loading wharf. (Government of Nunavut)

All but one of Nunavut's 25 communities are on the coast. Only one has any kind of docking facilities — a small craft harbour was built in Pangnirtung to accommodate fish off-loading for the local processing plant.

Suzanne Paquin, president and CEO of Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping, says she is pleased the project is finally moving forward.

"It can take up to two weeks to unload a vessel that would normally take three days if you didn't have the tides, so just that time in itself is just a huge gain and it allows us to serve the other Nunavut communities much faster."

The next step will be for MLAs to approve Nunavut's $21.2 million contribution to the project. 

If all goes according to plan, officials say the port could be open by 2020.

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