Iqaluit mayor wants city to call shots on emergency closures
John Graham calls GN 'cavalier' over decision to keep offices open during Monday's blizzard
The mayor of Iqaluit said the city should be in charge of deciding when public offices remain open during emergencies, such as Monday’s blizzard.
Snow, high winds and low visibility shut down most of the city Monday and into Tuesday. The City of Iqaluit asked people to stay off the roads.
"The last thing that our guys need when they're trying to get the place operational is the usual 3,000 cars that appear on the road at 8 o'clock. It makes operations just impossible," said Iqaluit Mayor John Graham.
On a morning tour of the city, the mayor said he counted at least 18 cars stuck in snow drifts and the road to Apex was snowed in.
All the schools were closed, but the Government of Nunavut wasn’t deterred by the weather.
"I wasn't very happy honestly with what I thought was a cavalier decision by the government of Nunavut to keep their offices open," said Graham.
Some territorial government employees didn’t know when they could go home.
"They were suddenly worried about their kids with daycares waiting for them to be picked up and very anxious about when they were going to close," said Carolyn Anawak, the president of the Local 5 Nunavut Employees Union.
The union said many of the workers were asked to sign special leave forms if they wanted to miss any work during the blizzard.
"Workers were saying ‘aw jeez. Do I want to take my special leave? I don't have a lot of it. And here's another blizzard and I didn't create it. Why am I in this situation?’ We don't want to see our workers in that situation," said Anawak.
The mayor thinks the city should make the call on when people should stay home.
"If the road system is shut down, we're asking people to keep off the roads and if that means everything has to shut down accordingly then that should be the way that it is — in the interest of public safety," said Graham.
The mayor said he will put this issue at the top of the agenda for an Emergency Preparedness Committee meeting later this month.