Iqaluit shipping delays renew calls for marine infrastructure

The first of the annual resupply ships made it into Frobisher Bay last week, but the return of multi-year sea ice is making it impossible to unload. That's prompting people in Nunavut's capital to renew a call for marine infrastructure.

'Obviously too much ice, it makes it impossible to reach the beach so we cannot work'

Every year the annual spectacle of watching sealift crates brought to Iqaluit's shore prompts calls for more marine infrastructure. But with this year's resupply delayed multiple times by ice and weather, those calls are getting louder.

The Qamutik, owned by Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping, arrived at Iqaluit on Tuesday with the help of an icebreaker. It was several weeks behind schedule.

This week, ocean currents brought mounds of multi-year ice into Frobisher Bay, prompting another delay. 

With no port or harbour to use to unload ships, the shipping company relies on barges to ferry cargo to shore. 

"Obviously too much ice, it makes it impossible to reach the beach so we cannot work," said NEAS president Suzanne Paquin.

Paquin, who leads one of the largest shipping companies to deliver to the Arctic, says the lack of a dock is costing everyone money.

"The marine infrastructure deficit in Nunavut increases the cost of living on all developments in Nunavut, from housing to new construction to everyday pricing of everyday products, there is no doubt about that."

Harsh ice conditions across the Eastern Arctic this summer have made it difficult for companies like NEAS to deliver goods.  Many communities say they are having a hard time even putting small boats into the water.

Federal politicians have made promises in the past to build a deep water port in Iqaluit, with no results.

Iqaluit city councillor Noah Papatsie says it's important for the city.

"Things like a port or a dock , if we can get those, we have talked about it within the city council... but it has to start with a lot of people too."

Papatsie says a dock or port would not just serve the shipping companies - hunters, fishers and boaters would use it too.

Nunavut's Member of Parliament, Federal cabinet minister Leona Aglukkaq will be making a marine infrastructure funding announcement at 1:30 p.m. in Iqaluit on Thursday but has not said exactly what it will be about.  She will be joined by local and territorial politicians.


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