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Permanent bridge latest plan

New proposal before environment board

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

Pelly Bay (May 14/01) - It will cost more, but a new bridge that will allow clean-up of a nearby radar site will help residents get to good fishing and hunting spots.

It's all because attempts to come up with design for a temporary span across a nearby river haven't been able to solve environmental concerns.

The bridge is needed to help a contractor get to a DEW-line site to begin a clean-up.

Now, the agencies planning the bridge have gone back to a design for a permanent structure, one previously discarded by the hamlet and the Department of Community Government and Transportation because of its $340,000 cost. A temporary structure would have cost the Nunavut government roughly $135,000.

But, because both previous temporary bridge designs would have interfered with the fish in the river, the government had to opt for the more expensive design -- one community members have expressed support for in recent months.

Fish interference

Jordan DeGroot, a habitat biologist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said he received the application for the permanent bridge on May 7. He said CGT still had to clarify a few matters before he would give them the authorization they needed under the Fisheries Act.

DeGroot said DFO had concerns with the second proposed structure, a clear-span bridge, because it required part of the river to be in-filled with gravel. The first bridge design was discarded in January for the same reason.

"It would harmfully destroy fish habitat," said DeGroot. "And there were additional impacts involved with removing the abutments."

Stephanie Briscoe, the executive director of the Nunavut Impact Review Board, said NIRB would do its part to speed up the process by attempting to fast-track the newest design through the various review procedures.

"The majority of the issues surrounding this are still the same," said Briscoe.

"We've reviewed it a number of times and it's down to just a couple of points."

A race against the clock

DND promised to contribute $400,000 to the bridge and road project -- it makes their cleanup job easier -- if the work was completed within days of the first sealift of the 2001 season. That enables the contractor to get to work this August.

According to Quinn Taggart, Kugaaruk's senior administrator, time is of the essence because the necessary materials have to be ordered by early June if they are to arrive on the first sealift.

Taggart also said he hoped to set up an employment training plan for workers hired to finish the construction of the bridge and road. He said such a plan -- to be possibly funded by the Department of Education and the Kitikmeot Economic Development Corporation -- would help offset the increased costs of the new bridge.