Sea lift: Grise Fiord Sealift skips Grise Fiord
Cost of airlifting Co-op goods will push prices through roof
NNSL (OCT 14/96) - Being last stop on the sea lift run has never stopped the goods from getting to Grise Fiord. Until this year.

The northern-most hamlet in Canada had two sea lifts scheduled this year.

Arriving at the beginning of September, the first lift brought everything the government ordered plus half of the hamlet's order.

The second delivery contained the entire Co-op order, the rest of the hamlet's order and building materials.

Building materials were left at Pond Inlet, but the ship took rest of the delivery, including more than $100,000 worth of food, back to its home port of Montreal.

"Prices will go through the roof, people won't have building materials and other things," said co-op manager Doug Beiers. "They'll have food until they run out of money."

Food sea-lifted to Grise Fiord is about 75 per cent more expensive than in the south. Beiers said another $1.14 a pound in air freight costs will be added unless the government steps in.

High Arctic MLA Levi Barnabas told the legislature last week that the failure to deliver leaves Grise Fiord in an emergency situation.

He called upon the government to provide subsidies to offset the increased costs associated with air freight.

"I've been assured the minister of municipal and community affairs will take over responsibility for flying the supplies from Pond Inlet to Grise Fiord," Barnabas said last Wednesday.

"I will continue to ask questions and keep monitoring it until the situation is resolved."

Supplies left at Pond Inlet were flown by Twin Otter to Grise Fiord in three loads last week.

The largest plane the Grise Fiord air strip can handle is a Dash 7.

In the days and weeks leading up to the anticipated arrival of the barge, Grise Fiord residents' expectations rose and plummeted until finally bottoming out two weeks ago.

"We went day-by-day since the second week of September," said David Akeeatok, the hamlet's assistant administrative officer. "There were so many dates. They said they were coming the next morning. We didn't hear from them until the next afternoon, and they said they would be coming in the late evening. Then we heard they had just arrived at Pond Inlet."

The vessel fell behind schedule after returning to Montreal for its second load of supplies.

On the way back it was slowed by the tail end of a hurricane. By the time it reached Montreal to load supplies for the return journey it was two weeks behind.

"They finally cancelled it last week," said Akeeatok.