Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut February 12, 2018 - 8:00 am

GN short-changes Iqaluit in contaminated land swap

"They've already used the land they want us to swap with. The airport is built on it"

BETH BROWN
Jesse Ajayi of Northern Futures Planning tells Iqaluit city councillors Feb. 8 that part of a land parcel the Government of Nunavut is giving to the City is contaminated. If Iqaluit accepts it, the city will bear the cost of cleaning it up. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)
Jesse Ajayi of Northern Futures Planning tells Iqaluit city councillors Feb. 8 that part of a land parcel the Government of Nunavut is giving to the City is contaminated. If Iqaluit accepts it, the city will bear the cost of cleaning it up. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)

A portion of land near Sylvia Grinnell Park that the Government of Nunavut wants to transfer to the City of Iqaluit is contaminated, an environmental assessment has revealed.

The 19.3-hectare parcel is part of a land-swap agreed upon between the municipality and the territorial government in a 2014 memorandum of understanding, when the GN needed city lands on which to build the new Iqaluit International Airport.

But a study shows that one of 13 surveyed land parcels at the site offered to the city are contaminated beyond an acceptable limit, Jesse Ajayi, a senior planner for Northern Futures Planning, said Feb. 8 at a meeting of the city’s planning and development committee of the whole.

Other parcels at the site are contaminated slightly more than is permissible, though those contaminants do not affect current use of the site, Ajayi said.

A few other land parcels are contaminated, but the levels are considered OK. 

“That shows there’s a barrier to accepting the transfer of these parcels from the Government of Nunavut,” he said. “If the contamination is not resolved now, the liability will pass to the city. That’s a very real concern.”

The area near the territorial park is broken into 28 land parcels, which, as a cost-saving measure, have not been fully assessed.

This is despite a recommendation in preliminary surveys that the lots be fully assessed, said Ajayi, who suggested that those parcels now be fully assessed so that the extent of contamination on the land can be understood by the municipality.

He said further assessments would also be needed to calculate how much their clean-up would cost.

Ajayi suggested that either the city refuse to accept the land, or renegotiate its agreement with the GN so that the cost of remediation doesn’t fall to the city.

City councillors agreed.

“They’ve already used the land they want us to swap with. The airport is built on it,” Deputy Mayor Romeyn Stevenson said. 

Coun. Terry Dobbin wants a contract for remediation at the site settled with the GN, instead of a new agreement.

An environmental assessment for the land parcels was first submitted to the city in 2015, but only finished and reviewed in December of 2017.

In July, the federal government said it would clean up a contaminated area, overlooking the Sylvia Grinnell River, that was a dump site used in part by the United States Air Force prior to 1970.

Email this story to a friend... Print this page... Bookmark and Share Comment on this story...

(5) Comments:

#1. Posted by Umilik on February 12, 2018

It must be lucrative for a former GN employee to turn around and consult for northern-based projects. I’m sure the list of former Nunavummiut, now consultants, would be quite long. Can’t people contribute to the betterment of Nunavut whilst an employee of the GN or a municipality? Or are their hands tied by bureaucracy?

#2. Posted by Bemused Observer on February 12, 2018

#1, that is way off topic. The article is about the GN unloading a financial liability on to the city of Iqaluit in a very sneaky manner.

But since you raised it, why is private sector consulting work “more lucrative” than the GN?

At the GN, you have a guaranteed high salary, multiple benefits, including a lucrative defined benefit pension and supplementary health insurance, generous vacation and basically a union-protected job for life if you are an indeterminate hire.

In the private sector you are only as good as your next contract and you have to perform, or else. In the private sector if you do not perform, you do not get paid.

Besides, if consultants did not exist, most of our municipalities could not function. Municipalities all over Canada use consultants for the same reason they are used in Nunavut, to provide knowledge and expertise that the municipalities will never have in-house.

#3. Posted by Polluter pays on February 12, 2018

What the municipality is not considering is the law.
CEPA- C15.31 1999
‘Whereas the Government of Canada recognizes the responsibility of users and producers in relation to toxic substances and pollutants and wastes, and has adopted the “polluter pays” principle;
287 (c) to reinforce the “polluter pays” principle by ensuring that offenders are held responsible for effective clean-up and environmental restoration.
1999, c. 33, s. 287; 2009, c. 14, s. 81.’

#4. Posted by GuessWho on February 16, 2018

#2 Does he actually have the knowledge and expertise?  His background performance is less than stellar I’ve heard.

#5. Posted by Janay on February 17, 2018

I guess Ray Rice has decided to become a planner with Northern Futures Planning

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?