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Community service deal inked
M&T takes over school busing from Pulaarvik in Rankin Inlet

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Parents in Rankin Inlet will have no more worries over dependable school busing now that M&T Enterprises Ltd. has been awarded the contract for the next five years.

NNSL photo/graphic

Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre executive director George Dunkerley, left, and M&T Enterprises Ltd. president David Ittinuar bring together a deal for M&T to purchase three buses from Pulaarvik to help provide school bus services to the community this past week in Rankin Inlet. - Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

Parents, especially of younger children in the community, have been worried about the situation since the Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre announced it could no longer afford to deliver the contract.

Pulaarvik had operated the school bus in Rankin for about the past 15 years.

M&T purchased the three buses under Pulaarvik's ownership this past week.

Friendship centre executive director George Dunkerley said the transaction became official on Aug. 9.

He said having M&T assume the busing contract eliminates a very expensive program that cost Pulaarvik a lot of money to deliver.

"The program never broke even for us," said Dunkerley.

"As for what the change means to the community, M&T is better equipped to deal with the transportation aspects of it.

"That will, I would hope, result in a better service for the community.

"M&T has its own mechanics, garages and those kinds of things, so the busing service should be a little more reliable than it was under us."

Dunkerley said M&T paid exactly what the buses were worth according to Pulaarvik's books, meaning the friendship centre was able to sell the vehicles without incurring any further financial loss.

He said, hopefully, the transaction will prove itself to be a very positive one for the friendship centre, M&T and the community.

"We didn't submit a proposal to the Government of Nunavut when it put the contract out to tender this year.

"The school-busing service always cost us money, and it had reached the point where it was costing us more than we could continue to spend.

"M&T took possession of the buses on Aug. 9, and that ended the friendship centre's affiliation with the service."

M&T Enterprises president and Sakku Investments vice-president of operations David Ittinuar said the intent of M&T is to continue the service of busing children, which it sees as a responsible service and a contribution to the community.

He said the service has synergies with other operational aspects of M&T.

"We (M&T) provide busing services to Agnico Eagle and on the apron for our airport system," said Ittinuar.

"We have many drivers in the expediting field, so it's an area we see as easy to expand into and support.

"We evaluated whether we would purchase new buses, and we're probably still going to go there during the course of the contract as part of our fleet renewal.

"But, in looking at our options, we were also sensitive to the fact Pulaarvik would be left sitting with three buses with nothing to do."

Ittinuar said in the spirit of community co-operation and support, purchasing the buses from Pulaarvik was a nice way to deal with the transition.

He said while the contract is not a lucrative one by any means, M&T having its own in-house mechanics, garages and parking facilities will be a boost to delivering the service.

"These are all external components to an operation like Pulaarvik's, which was doing a great job in doing its best to make this work.

"They are areas in which we don't pay money out in a cash form, so they're facets of providing this service in-house without incurring any additional costs."

M&T has also indicated to Pulaarvik that it would like to assist in the transition of staff members who had worked as bus drivers for the friendship centre and would like to continue with M&T.

Ittinuar said M&T are more than open to that approach in the transition.

He said it's now a matter of following up with Pulaarvik to see who the drivers were, and what their interests may be in terms of transitioning.

"It's similar to other operations such as taking air cargo operations with Calm Air and First Air.

"We've transitioned all the employees who wanted to come and work with M&T in those operations.

"The door was open for them and we'll do the same here.

"I understand providing services to the community such as busing school children was the spirit, intent and focus of M&T in its former ownership structure, and we plan to carry that forward."

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