Second floor, please
Elevators lift off in new GN buildings and new Nunavut schools

Maria Canton
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Jan 24/00) - Going up? Not an unusual question when you're hopping into the open mouth of a waiting elevator.

"I remember when we used to go to Iqaluit in the '70s and ride the elevators at the D.W. Brown building," said Cape Dorset mayor Matthew Saveakjuk.

"I think the kids will want to ride in the elevator when the building here is finished, most of them probably haven't been in one before."

Saveakjuk is speaking about the new, two-storey Government of Nunavut building under construction in Cape Dorset -- which includes the community's first elevator.

"We don't have any other highrises in Cape Dorset, so I guess it's the first," he said.

However, elevators aren't that unusual in the Eastern Arctic. National building codes demand that any building two storeys or more must have an elevator -- therefore, a few new schools around Nunavut are outfitted with the box that hoists people up and down.

Unfortunately for Pangnirtung's Attagoyuk school, they have an on-again, off-again kind of relationship with their elevator since opening in December 1998.

"The elevator has been plagued with problems," said vice-principal Donald Mearns.

"In fact, we had a chap in today who says that it's fixed, but it's always working and then not."

And because of the constant mechanical and circuitry problems, the school imposes semi-strict elevator etiquette.

"Since we have so many problems with the elevator, we try and stop students from taking it, just avoid the risk of getting a group stuck between floors," said Mearns.

"They have fine, young limbs to take them up and down the stairs. The elevator is only for students with disabilities and the janitorial staff."

And here's hoping elevators in the new GN buildings in Pangnirtung, Pond Inlet, Iglulik, Cape Dorset and Baker Lake won't be as riddled with problems as Attagoyuk's.

"Two have been installed and the others should be ready for inspection in February," said Brian McLean, construction field manager for the Nunavut Construction Corporation.

"We want to have them all inspected before April 1 when they're turned over to the GN."

McLean expects people will want the uplifting experience of hopping in for a ride when the buildings are complete. Second floor, please.