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4 Iqaluit city councillors plan to seek re-election, while another still deciding

Iqaluit and 24 other Nunavut communities will elect new municipal governments on Oct. 23. (Nick Murray/CBC News - image credit)
Iqaluit and 24 other Nunavut communities will elect new municipal governments on Oct. 23. (Nick Murray/CBC News - image credit)

Four of Iqaluit's current city councillors plan to run for re-election in October, while another is still considering if he'll put his hat in the ring.

Nunavut's municipal elections happen across the territory on Oct. 23. Nominations will take place between Sept. 18 and 22.

CBC News emailed the eight city councillors and Mayor Solomon Awa to see if they would be running again.

Kimberly Smith, Samuel Tilley, Swany Amarapala and Kyle Sheppard said they plan to.

Romeyn Stevenson, who has been a part of council since 2009, said he would be making a decision by the time nominations open in a few weeks.

Awa, Simon Nattaq, Ookalik Curley and Paul Quassa didn't respond to CBC News' request by deadline.

Sheppard, the city's deputy mayor, said he'll run again for council — preferring to have a balance between municipal politics and his day job. Iqaluit's mayor is a full-time position.

"There's been some challenges with the pandemic and everything over the past couple of years," he said. "But there's a lot of opportunity and some, you know, really bright spots coming down the pipe in the future and I really want to be a part of that."

Among other concerns, the current council has had to weather the COVID-19 pandemic as well as Iqaluit's water crisis – which rendered the water supply unusable for months after fuel was found in it.

The long-term water project, which is funded with $214 million from the federal government, will arguably be the next council's most important priority once the new term begins.

Work on the City of Iqaluit water treatment plant continues in Iqaluit, Nunavut, on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. According to a news release issued earlier in the day, the city has installed an online, real-time water monitoring station within the plant that can provide early warning notifications of hydrocarbons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dustin Patar
Work on the City of Iqaluit water treatment plant continues in Iqaluit, Nunavut, on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. According to a news release issued earlier in the day, the city has installed an online, real-time water monitoring station within the plant that can provide early warning notifications of hydrocarbons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dustin Patar

Iqaluit's long-term water project is expected to be a key priority of the next council. (Dustin Patar/CP)

Iqaluit's former mayor Kenny Bell also abruptly resigned in Oct. 2022, prompting council to vote Awa into the position on a part-time, temporary basis.

Stevenson, who is the alternative deputy mayor, told CBC News that six months ago he was almost certainly out of the race. But now, he's reconsidering.

"There are certainly some projects that are still ongoing with the city that I feel passionate about and I would like to be a part of seeing to fruition," he said.

One of those, he said, is the new landfill that will be combined with a waste management transfer system.

Two newer faces to council say they feel they've been able to make an impact – and hope voters agree.

Kimberly Smith was appointed to council in June 2022. She says the city's biggest challenge is its aging infrastructure, something other councillors agreed with.

"We have one of the fastest growing populations in all of Canada and, you know, we need the infrastructure to support that," she said. "Without that infrastructure we also can't address the housing crisis that we're experiencing. We need that infrastructure in place to be able to expand."

Amarapala noted that she wants to continue seeing more young female representation on council, and have a say in the future of the city.

Her focus, she said, will be the long-term water project – but also planning for the future.

"As of right now we're kind of just putting out fires as they come and I would like to start planning for the future and making it better for the entire community," she said.