Docking facility needed in Iqaluit, Nunavut, say shipping companies

A sealift ship is anchored amid ice in Frobisher Bay off Iqaluit earlier this summer when ice was delaying unloading of cargo from the ships. (CBC)Shipping companies say Iqaluit needs some type of docking facility now

The three shipping companies that service Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut are calling for some type of docking facility in the capital city of Iqaluit soon, instead of waiting for a deep sea port to be built sometime in the future.

Iqaluit has been lobbying for a deep sea port and has been trying to find the millions to build it. But the sealift companies attending the Nunavut Trade Show and Conference say it’s better for leaders to be realistic and get some type of less elaborate docking infrastructure in place.

“You look here in Iqaluit, nothing’s changed since the time of Martin Frobisher, nothing at all,” said Suzanne Paquin, with Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping, referring to the British explorer who searched for the Northwest Passage in the 1500s.

“The vessels are much bigger, they’re significantly better. What does that mean to the North? Well it means that the ships have to be anchored farther away and that means they’re exposed to all the harsh weather, the elements, the wind, which means there’s more days especially in the fall where we can’t work.”

That costs companies time and money.

Paquin said Iqaluit could look to Nunavik, the predominantly Inuit region in Canada’s French-speaking province of Quebec, for examples of smaller ports that meet both the companies’ and the communities’ needs.

Peter Woodward with the Woodward Group of Companies suggests re-using what was put at the causeway by the American military.

“We really do believe that you need a dock — a piece of concrete, nothing elaborate — and some ability to accommodate some tidal influences,” he said. “You could pull tractor trailers up.”

Woodward said it would make a big difference for people in Nunavut’s capital.

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