Iqaluit’s infrastructure struggles to keep up with growth

Nunavut's capital city needs hundreds of millions of dollars for new infrastructure to keep up with rapid growth.

Nunavut capital needs hundreds of millions of dollars for upgrades

Around Iqaluit, basic infrastructure is stressed and broken, which leaves humans and the environment at risk.

Iqaluit's garbage mountain is an unwelcome sight for visitors and a new dump is badly needed.

Last year when the landfill caught fire, buildings and schools in Iqaluit were closed because of toxic smoke.

And this is just one example of Iqaluit's struggles with infrastructure, in a city long time residents never thought would get so big.

"Without knowing how much the population was going to grow, I don't think anybody could have planned for this, to keep up with the growth, and we're definitely seeing that today," said long-time Iqaluit resident Kirt Ejesiak.

Iqaluit became the capital of Nunavut in 1999, with pothole-ridden dirt roads, and a few hundred vehicles for the city's 2,700 residents. The population has doubled since 1999. There are now more than 7,000 residents.

The population is expected to double again in 20 years.

Many roads have now been paved, but the city still pumps raw sewage in to Frobisher Bay.

The pipes that carry water and waste in the newer parts of town are at risk because of climate change.

And the reservoir can't hold enough water for the growing population.

It all adds up to a $160 million infrastructure deficit.

The Mayor says the city might be able to scrape together just $20 million for the badly needed upgrades.

"We're bringing that to the attention of the Government of Nunavut, the federal government and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. That's just the state we're in," said Madeleine Redfern, Iqaluit’s mayor.

Other facilities like the airport also need major upgrades to handle more than 20,000 flights per year. Money for that will have to come from the Nunavut government, which is also strapped for cash.

Everyone is looking to Ottawa.

Recently, the federal government has announced tens of millions of dollars for infrastructure projects in Nunavut.

But it’s hardly dented the massive infrastructure needs of Canada's newest territory.