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'Send us the bill,' Pond Inlet told

Casey Lessard
Northern News Services
Published Monday, May 14, 2012

Nunavut Airports will soon take over the cost of providing security at the airport in Pond Inlet, GN airport director Shawn Maley told Nunavut News/North. Canadian North is currently paying a guard to watch its planes overnighting in the hamlet.

"We've agreed to cover the cost of a night-time security guard for three months commencing June 1," Maley said. "Right now, Canadian North is covering the cost. The Hamlet of Pond Inlet will be co-ordinating and administering that, and basically just sending us the bill."

The decision came after a Pond Inlet man broke into a Canadian North de Havilland Dash-8 parked overnight at the airport April 4. It was the fourth break-in to a Canadian North plane in Pond Inlet in the last two years.

Planes overnighting in the hamlet provide travellers access to early morning flights to Iqaluit, arriving in time to connect to the south and west.

The funding arrangement will be re-evaluated after the three-month period, during which a new $50,000 security system should start operating.

"We need to find the right one for Pond," he said. "We've narrowed it down to three and we're hoping to make a final selection in the next week or so, and then we'll move forward to have that installed, hopefully in early June. If they work properly, we'll look at putting them in more (airports)."

Security cameras may be a good tool for catching criminals, but both Maley and the hamlet agree that discouraging crime is the top priority. That was the message coming out of an April 13 meeting involving the government, hamlet, Canadian North, First Air, RCMP and other concerned groups.

"It was mandated in that meeting that we should educate the community, and we have had a couple of visits to the school already," Mayor Jaykolasie Killiktee said through translator Morgan Arnakallak. In addition to making radio announcements, "we (the mayor and deputy mayor) went to Ulaajuk elementary school on April 26 and we talked to the students about vandalism and not to vandalize the airport or the airplanes. On April 27, we visited Nasivvik high school and the message was the same, to emphasize that vandalism doesn't pay."

The man accused of breaking into the plane appeared in court in Iqaluit Thursday to face three charges, including mischief over $5,000, break and enter and theft, and breach of probation. Police say the man stole hand sanitizer and some cans of pop.

"We are still concerned about this matter, and the main concern we have is the safety of the airlines and we've been working hard to educate people," deputy mayor Joshua Arreak said through Arnakallak. "We are working hard with the RCMP and they go patrolling sometimes at night, as well as the bylaw of the hamlet. We are working together to maintain the security of the airport."

Maley believes changing attitudes will help improve security.

"The main thing is there haven't been any further incidents and that's good," he said. "Once the security system is in place and we have an opportunity to review in the summertime, everybody will be in a better position to determine what needs to change and what needs to stay the same. We're doing these mitigation efforts, but our position is we want to work with the community to change attitudes about damaging aircraft and the dangers involved with that."

Meanwhile, Killiktee criticized news reports about the crime, saying they "portrayed" Pond Inlet as a "bad community."

"That was wrong," he said, noting the crisis "affected the whole community. It was a terrible time for the community, and the feeling now is that the whole community is concerned about it. We know there is a need for a security guard at the airport. Safety is the most important part of this discussion. Airlines should be safe to fly."

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