Iqaluit approves scaled down, $2.6M dump fire plan

The City of Iqaluit unanimously approved spending up to $2.6 million to put out the dump fire that’s been burning for over two months. The Nunavut government agreed to pitch in, but only if the cost would be much less than the original $4.5 million.

14 firefighters will work 12 hours a day for one month soaking the garbage pile

Over a dozen citizens packed into Iqaluit’s cramped city council chambers last night to hear a new plan to extinguish the dump fire that’s now been burning for over two months.

Fire Chief Luc Grandmaison came to the council meeting fresh from a meeting with the Nunavut Government. He said the government is ready to help put out the fire, if they see a cheaper solution.

City council approved that solution last night to applause.

The original plan called for scooping out smouldering trash and soaking it in a makeshift pool until the pile shrinks to about two metres tall. That would have taken about two months and roughly $4.5 million.

Under the new plan, firefighters will start drowning the main pile when it stands at five metres.

Grandmaison says this would take 30 fewer days, and crucially, cost much less.

“The new projected cost would now be down to almost $2.2 million: a projected cost savings of almost $2.3 million."

Councillors accepted the new plan, provided the city gets financial help. They approved spending up to $2.6 million in case of unforeseen costs.

The plan would include hiring five expert firefighters from outside Nunavut to work 12-hour a day shifts. Nine local firefighters would also take part in the operation.

John Hussey, the city’s chief administrative officer, says the Nunavut government will need time to take the plan to cabinet.

“They also made it clearly known that they will not fund 100 per cent of the costs. They do expect the city of Iqaluit to put some money into this. And we have to date. I think we're running close to half a million dollars."

That includes spending $67,000 on landfill fire expert, Tony Sperling, who helped draft the original $4.5 million plan.

Hussey suggests the city ask for the bill to be split equally among the three levels of government.

Happy with the plan

Anna Ziegler applauded as council unanimously approved the new plan.

She’s part of Iqalummiut for Action, a group that wants the dump fire put out, and better waste management for the city.

“We're happy to hear everyone's willing to work together, willing to take action quickly and start moving forward,” she says.

For now, the fire is continuing to burn.

Grandmaison says the fire over the last two month has reduced the garbage pile “in size, volume and width."