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Calls grow louder for deep port in Iqaluit

By: The Canadian Press

 | Jul 14, 2014 - 2:40 PM |
An overall view of Iqaluit, Nunavut is shown on Tuesday July 8, 2014. Iqaluit is a territorial capital in a G7 nation but its waterfront has scarcely changed since English explorer Martin Frobisher visited there in 1576. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

An overall view of Iqaluit, Nunavut is shown on Tuesday July 8, 2014. Iqaluit is a territorial capital in a G7 nation but its waterfront has scarcely changed since English explorer Martin Frobisher visited there in 1576. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

IQALUIT, Nunavut - Iqaluit is a territorial capital in a G7 nation but its waterfront has scarcely changed since English explorer Martin Frobisher visited there in 1576.

There's no port and no dock in the Baffin Island boomtown, clamouring for supplies that include building materials, construction equipment and all-terrain vehicles.

That forces shipping companies to work around some of the world's highest tides and race to unload their cargo onto the town's craggy public beach, a process that takes as long as two weeks.

Residents, business owners and shipping companies alike are clamouring for an investment in marine infrastructure similar to the type seen in nearby Nunavik, Quebec's Arctic region, and in Greenland.

Iqaluit is considered a critical hub, a gateway to the high Arctic, a region where oil and gas exploration is on the brink of wide-scale development thanks to climate change.

Small-business owner Allan Mullin says a serious investment in marine infrastructure would have a "domino effect" on Iqaluit, and would help solve a host of other problems confronting the community.

Along with a lack of social housing, Iqaluit is grappling with crowded living conditions thought to be contributing to rising tuberculosis rates, sky-high food prices that have prompted the normally placid Inuit to organize protests, and high suicide rates.

Follow Lee-Anne Goodman on Twitter at @leeanne25

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