Rush hour in Nunavut is, for the time being, non-existent, but Iqaluit’s chief municipal enforcement officer Kevin Sloboda says most Iqalummiut are familiar with “rush minute.”
“Everyone goes home at once. Everyone goes to work at once. It just seems to be one of those things stagnating your traffic flow, so you get these mass congestions.”
The isolated city of about 7,000 people has no stop lights, and no roads to any other town, but still, about 300 new vehicles hit Iqaluit’s streets each year. There are now about 5,500 registered vehicles in Iqaluit. The territory as a whole has about 8,900.
“The number of vehicles definitely is increasing,” says Waguih Rayes, general manager of the sealift company Degagnes Transarctik.
This month the company shipped a record 106 vehicles on a single voyage North, beating last year’s high of 93.
Rayes says the number of vehicles aren’t just congesting Iqaluit’s streets, but also the ships themselves.
“It’s becoming a problem for us in terms of shipping because we cannot stack vehicles. We can stack containers, so we put vehicles in containers and this unfortunately increases the cost.”
But that problem is coming from a positive development: economic growth.
“People are getting better jobs,” Rayes says. “The mining sector is offering better opportunities for work.”
Many new cars come in, but few old cars go are taken out of the territory. The derelict vehicles can leach contaminants like lead and mercury.
As the number of cars increases, Sloboda says the city may eventually look at an import levy to offset the cost of stripping, crushing and removing old vehicles.