Deputy mayor optimistic for 2016New aquatic centre, waste management system top priorities for new year in Iqaluit
Northern News Services
Monday, January 4, 2016
The post-election commentary is markedly different this year for Iqaluit deputy mayor Romeyn Stevenson, now six years on council.
Iqaluit deputy mayor Romeyn Stevenson says he is looking forward to two big-ticket items for the city in 2016: the new aquatic centre and tackling wastewater management. - Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
"It's funny, because after my first term I didn't get asked this question as much as I'm getting asked it now," said Stevenson, when asked what he thinks about the new council. "I have had nothing but great experiences with all of the councils I've worked on."
Learning the strengths of people around the table is a great experience, he added.
"I think that we're going in the right direction and I think they've got their minds in the right place and they're ready to do some work."
Talk of the city's finances and debt problems dominated 2015, he said. That and transparency were the main topics in candidates' pre-election pledges.
"Finances are really the nuts and bolts of city
politics," said Stevenson.
This coming year, two things stand out for the deputy mayor - the new aquatic centre finally opening and tackling the city's waste management system, namely finding a new place for the landfill and starting the process of closing the current one.
Two years ago, the federal government ordered the city to have its water licence and waste management in order. Those deadlines are approaching, said Stevenson.
"We need to do a wastewater treatment plant," said Stevenson. "That is going to be extremely expensive. We need to do it right. We can't rush it to get it done but it needs to be done by those federal deadlines. That will be challenging."
On a brighter note, he said he looks forward to the long-awaited aquatic centre, which has been in the making since 2004 and the subject of much hand-wringing with regard to its price tag.
"That will be a huge change to the city of Iqaluit and to the recreation programs we offer but also just to the overall feeling of our community," said Stevenson. "I'm really looking forward to that. It's been a long time coming."
The city has a role as a leader among the communities in Nunavut, he continued.
"I think that we understand that often what we do is followed by other communities or other communities model after us," said Stevenson, adding some of the fights Iqaluit takes on help other communities, as well.
Stevenson pointed to the dump fire of 2014, which alerted the territory to how much it needed to improve its waste management systems across the board.
Iqaluit will also be a leader this year in facilitating a Government of Nunavut review of subsidies for water rates.
Stevenson said 2015 was a good year and he's optimistic about the city and enjoys representing residents.
Mayor Madeleine Redfern could not be reached for comment.