2 candidates face off in Iqaluit mayoral race

Voters in Iqaluit will choose between two mayoral candidates in the municipal election at the end of the month. 

Noah Papatsie and Kenneth Bell are competing for the mayoral seat that has been held by Madeleine Redfern since 2015. 

Redfern's legacy as mayor includes helping pull the city out of debt from a dump fire that cost millions of dollars. She is noted for lobbying the federal government directly to secure funding for the city. 

When she leaves her position on Oct. 28th she will pass on the task of addressing many of the city's challenges such as failing water and sewage infrastructure, and the city's potable drinking water shortage.

CBC asked the mayoral candidates about some of the key issues the city faces. 

Secure funding

"I don't want the mayor to be sitting down in Ottawa asking for money," said Bell.

Bell said lobbying for funding is needed but felt that Redfern went out on her own too much when trying to secure federal money. 

"I am going to be here in Iqaluit talking with our community members and our community leaders and make sure we lobby together," said Bell. 

Bell said if elected he would secure funding through council motions to bring federal ministers to city council. He also said he wants to have large corporations, such as Nunastar or Northview Property REIT, lobby the government on behalf of the city.  

Papatsie also believes in building relationships with business to secure city funding. Papatsie said he is prepared to lobby governments himself for city funds but also believes there are other ways to secure grants. Papatsie did not specify how he would go about securing other funds. 

Iqaluit's water shortage 

David Gunn/Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC

Iqaluit's potable water shortage is the top issue for Bell. Bell said if elected he would make sure there is a plan for a long term solution to the water shortage before the water licence to supplement Lake Geraldine with the Apex River expires in 2026. 

"I will be bringing it to council right away to make sure that we continue to lobby the federal government and Nunavut government to ensure we have enough funding to ensure potable water," said Bell. 

"If we think smarter and think about the environment we are living in I think we can have a lot of great things happen towards our industry or towards our infrastructure," said Papatsie. 

Papatsie has been a councillor during the declaration of the cities two water emergencies. He said he wants to tackle a long term solution to the shortage and continuing to encourage the community to practice water saving measures. 

Papatsie also mentioned building a water tower for neighbourhoods such as Apex, but did not clarify if this is a long term solution he is considering to deal with the crisis. 

Increasing Inuit employment at the city 

Promoting Inuit in the city is a top priority for Papatsie. He wants to create an Inuit association within the city to look at community issues. 

"We can do so much together by creating an Inuit association within our community," said Papatsie. 

The city of Iqaluit is creating an Inuit employment plan that is supposed to be finished by the end of the year. 

Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC

Bell said he would increase Inuit employment at the city by creating an employee daycare. 

"I know there is a lot of loops and jumps to do to even get their," said Bell. 

Bell said city staff "complete magic with zero help from their council and their mayor" he wants to change that by giving them the "support they actually need." 

What makes you a good mayoral candidate? 

"I really care about what I am doing," said Papatsie. "I have grown here, being born and raised here." 

Papatsie wants to work with the city to help increase accessibility of Iqaluit. He wants the city to catch up to the rest of Canada in making sure workplaces and buildings are accessible to all people. Papatsie believes by keeping Inuit at the top of the city's agenda and building on the work he has done as a councillor he can help move the city forward. 

"I think I have that ability to bring back that human touch to politics," Bell said. "I don't particularly like politicians, I don't particularly like politics." 

Bell sat on city council from 2012 to 2015 but left because of family issues and because he was having problems with the way the sitting council was running the city. He said he is running for mayor now to change the way things have been working.  

"The city is not running properly," Bell said. "They are anti-business, if you talk to any business person in Iqaluit they say they are anti-business." 

Bell said he wants to repair the relationship with business in the city. Bell said in order to be mayor of a small community you need to have "thick skin" in order to make decisions that may be unpopular with some people for the betterment of the community, which he believes he can bring to the table.