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The design process should soon be underway for five new airport terminal buildings in Nunavut.

Chesterfield Inlet, Naujaat, Whale Cove, Kugluktuk, and Kimmirut are each in line for replacements.

This old airport terminal building in Chesterfield Inlet will be torn down after a new one is built in a few years.
photo courtesy of the Department of Economic Development and Transportation

Construction in Chesterfield Inlet and Naujaat, which was expected to begin this year, has been postponed. All five communities are now anticipated to begin the building process at roughly the same time as a cost-savings measure based on incorporating similar architectural and engineering designs, according to the GN.

However, plans for Kimmirut appear to be less certain because the GN stated: “The Kimmirut ATB (airport terminal building) includes additional considerations as the department maintains a medium-term goal of relocating the Kimmirut airport.”

“I’m hoping that there will be no hiccups, because those airport terminals are very much needed for those communities,” Economic Development and Transportation Minister David Akeeagok had said in the legislative assembly in March.

The Government of Nunavut has earmarked $30 million for the five airports. The money came from the federal National Trade Corridors Fund.

Akeeagok noted that the new airport terminal buildings will serve as a template for other Nunavut communities in the future.

Indeed, the GN’s tender informs architectural and engineering firms vying for the design contract that bids will encompass work on all five community airports and that the territorial government reserves the right to use the designs elsewhere in Nunavut.

Construction tenders are anticipated to be ready by January and the building process is expected to essentially be done by December 2023, according to the GN.

“It would be a wonderful thing,” Naujaat Mayor Alan Robinson said of the prospective new air terminal building for his community.

Naujaat’s existing 1981 model remains “neat and tidy,” according to Robinson, “but surely it would be a lot nicer if it was bigger.”

It appears that his wish will be granted. The current one-storey building measures 1,302 square feet. The replacement will be 3,810 square feet and will accommodate up to 100 people.

The new building will feature three airline offices, a large public space, public washrooms, a ticket area, luggage room, storage room, janitor’s closet, mechanical/fan room, tank room, and a second floor Community Aerodrome Radio Station (CARS) observation and workspace.

MLA Cathy Towtongie said Chesterfield Inlet “badly needs the airport terminal… Chesterfield has not had infrastructure for their needs for years.”

The new airport terminals in the other communities may vary somewhat, but the specifications will be similar. All of the existing airport buildings in those communities were installed in the 1970s or ’80s.

The GN indicated that thermosyphon foundations are preferred in all locations except Kimmirut, where piles are to be used. Thermosyphons are a method of stabilizing buildings that rest on permafrost.

The construction contractor will also be responsible for the demolition of the old airport terminal buildings after the new ones are in service.

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Derek Neary

Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...

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