Northern News Services
The hamlet council has been discussing the issue for at least the past 10 years. Senior administrative officer Rhoda Katsak said the community held a visioning exercise three years ago and a new airport was the major topic of interest.
According to Katsak, there is a widespread belief throughout the hamlet that the current airport location is too central.
"It's restricting the future town planning. We are now in the process of trying to build around the airport," she said.
The hamlet is also concerned that the hamlet's limited airport facilities are hampering economic growth.
"We want to have jet service into the community," she said.
"One of the reasons is we have a national park right next door which is a tourist attraction. With a bigger airport it would bring more tourists into the community," said Katsak.
In addition, a larger airport would reduce the cost of bringing goods into the community. It would also allow Pond Inlet-based government departments to interact with other departments in the region, such as Clyde River, Grise Fjord, Arctic Bay, Iglulik and Hall Beach.
Until recently those communities had no flight connections. Kenn Borek Air now has regularly scheduled small-flight service from Grise Fjord to Iqaluit through Pond Inlet.
"We are restricted and these High Arctic communities are restricted as well," said Katsak.
The hamlet issued a call for proposals, which closed Aug. 18, to look into whether it is feasible to build a larger airport in Pond Inlet.
Katsak said proponents were asked to provide site-selection options and feasibility and cost estimates. The proposals are currently under review by the hamlet and council.
"This is one of the top priorities of the community," she said.
The hamlet has requested the Department of Sustainable Development to provide funding for the feasibility study. Katsak said she has not heard anything from department officials yet, but expects a response shortly.