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Iqaluit port and Pond Inlet harbour: political promise or reality?

It's unclear whether federal funding for a deep-water port in Iqaluit and a small craft harbour in Pond Inlet will come through following last week's federal election, though many are optimistic that it will.

Nunavut MP-elect Hunter Tootoo says Conservative commitments will be honoured; no agreement yet signed

It's unclear whether federal funding for a deep-water port in Iqaluit and a small craft harbour in Pond Inlet will come through following last week's federal election.

Methuselah Kunuk, co-chair of Iqaluit's Amarok Hunters and Trappers Association and the Baffin Fisheries Coalition, says a port in the community is overdue. (CBC)

In late July, days before the election was called, Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq came to Iqaluit promising as much as $63.7 million toward the $84.9 million cost of building a deep water port and small craft harbour in the city.

A month earlier, Aglukkaq made a similar announcement promising that the federal government would contribute up to $30 million of the $40 million needed to build a small craft harbour in Pond Inlet.

It's marine infrastructure that the co-chair of Iqaluit's Amarok Hunters and Trappers Association and the Baffin Fisheries Coalition, Methuselah Kunuk, says is overdue. He says boating and the annual sealift would be much safer and easier if there was a port and small craft harbour.

"We need them now," Kunuk says. 

"If we started now, we would probably have one in two or three years if the plan was going the way it was going. I don't know how it's going to be with the new government."

That's a question many are asking since Aglukkaq lost her seat to Liberal candidate Hunter Tootoo, as the Liberals took over the House of Commons.

Nunavut MP-elect Hunter Tootoo has promised that any money committed by the Conservatives would stay put under a Liberal Government. (CBC)

During the election campaign, Tootoo promised that any money committed by the Conservatives would stay put under a Liberal Government, and he maintains that position.

"If the money has been committed and is committed, it will stay committed," says Tootoo.

"We won't know until we get a chance to open up the books and see what is actually there, but it will be one of the top things on my list to check."

What's unclear is what it means for the funds to be considered "committed." The Conservatives said during the campaign that their pre-election announcements were commitments, but no binding agreements between the federal and the territorial governments have been signed on the port and small craft harbour.

"From what I understand, there hasn't been a actual contribution agreement signed," says Iqaluit-Tasiluk MLA George Hickes.

George Hickes, MLA for Iqaluit-Tasiluk, says the projects will be going forward. (CBC)

But Hickes is optimistic the projects will happen.

"As far as I am aware, those projects are going to be going forward and they are going to be doing some of the geo-technical work," he says.

Some of that preliminary work by the Nunavut government has already begun in Iqaluit and Pond Inlet with the hope that the money promised will be delivered.

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