New hydro dam for capital of Canada’s eastern Arctic would cost $450M

Iqaluit, the capital city of Canada's eastern Arctic Nunavut territory. Photo: The Canadian Press. Qulliq Energy says dam would be up and running by 2019

Iqaluit, the capital city of Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, could run on hydro power in less than 10 years if a proposal from the Qulliq Energy Corporation is approved.

Representatives from the corporation were at Iqaluit City Council Tuesday to update councillors on the proposed project.

The corporation’s board recently approved funds for a feasibility study to look at hydro power for Nunavut’s capital and largest community.

Officials say they are ready to begin the environmental review process.

Currently, the city is powered solely by diesel generators.

The plan is to build two dams, at Jaynes Inlet and the Armshow River, both on the south side of Frobisher Bay.

Richard Cook, who is with the engineering firm Knight-Piesold, said a hydro dam at Jaynes Inlet could open in 2019 and serve the city’s growing energy needs.

“Then at some point in the future, perhaps 2025, 2030, to bring the Armshow South project online,” he said.

Cook said the Jaynes Inlet project is cost effective and would have minimal impact on Arctic Char.

Transmission lines would stretch 84 kilometres from the dam to a substation in Iqaluit.

Councillor Mark Morrissey wondered where the money would come from for the project.

Qulliq Energy Corporation’s Director of Engineering, Stephen Kerr, said the project is still in the early stages.

“Once we know we have a project, we’ll go and find some partners. Qulliq Energy as it’s own entity probably could not fund the project. We’d have to go the GN [Government of Nunavut] or some other partners to fund this. And one of the potentials there is for a P3 partnership,” said Kerr.

In September, Qulliq Energy president Peter Mackey said it would cost $450 million to complete the project.

The corporation is holding public consultations about the project in Iqaluit tonight.

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