Iqaluit Declares Local State of Emergency Following a COVID-19 Transmission in the Community

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Iqaluit City declared a local state of emergency Monday afternoon at an emergency city council convention.

City councilor Kyle Sheppard led the move during the meeting, which was live-streamed on the city’s Facebook page.

The move permits the city to open some limited authorities under Nunavut’s Emergency Measures Act.

The city’s mayor Kenny Bell said the move empowers Iqaluit’s bylaw officials to implement the regional lockdown rules, which officers will be doing.

Unlike Arviat, which put in a curfew when the hamlet declared a local state of emergency around its COVID-19 outbreak earlier 2021, the City of Iqaluit has not enforced its own rules.

Sheppard urged Iqalummiut to follow the region’s public health measures. He called the city’s situation “serious,” citing Friday’s announcement from the government of Nunavut that there now existed community transmission of the disease in Iqaluit.

Eight new cases of coronavirus were reported in Iqaluit on Monday, and that brought the total active case count in the city to 85, with two in Rankin Inlet and two in Kinngait.

There are 81 cases in the City of Iqaluit. The city has been on lockdown since Apr. 15, according to the Nunavut’s public health orders.

The region ordered all non-essential businesses to close and restaurants to move to take-away only. Any person who can work from home is expected to do so. The government additionally made masks mandatory.

The provincial chief public health officer says Iqalummiut are just to be socializing with the people they live with, though under the orders residents can have up to 5 persons in their homes in emergency conditions.

Iqaluit’s deputy mayor Janet Brewster concurred with the motion and the vote approving the state of emergency was unanimous.

The state of emergency will formally be enforced into effect at 12 a.m. on May 4.

The Emergency Measures Act requires the appointment of a municipal emergency management coordinator and the city’s chief administrative officer, Amy Elgersma, was designated in that position.

States of emergency need to be extended by city council every two weeks, as per the legislation.

Plans for water shortage

Nunavut’s Cities, Towns and Villages Act requires a city under a state of emergency to just perform work related to the current emergency, as per Elgersma.

In the meeting, Elgersma said that the Iqaluit’s water supply did relate to the current emergency.

“The city has a requirement to ensure that the city has an adequate water supply,” Elgersma said.

For the last couple of years, Iqaluit has been supplementing its water supply from its reservoir, Lake Geraldine, with water from the nearby Apex River since the late does not hold sufficient water for the growing Iqaluit.

This year, Iqaluit put the contract to do the pumping work out for public tender and got three bids. Due to 2021’s early melt, the city wanted to award the contract as soon as possible so the successful firm could begin work immediately.

Waiting would imply missing the meltwater and possibly requiring the city to seek out a third water source.

The contract was given to Tower Arctic, which bid the lowest at $447,000.

Sheppard moved the awarding of the contract and councilor Romeyn Stevenson backed the motion, and the vote was once again unanimous.

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