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Nanisivik Naval Facility - perpetual delays

August 15, 2013

In 2007, the Federal government announced a $100 M infrastructure to upgrade the post of Nanisivik to be able to service navy and other vessels in the June to October season. Six years later, the project is still in the planning stage.

In 2007 the Canadian Forces announced plans to convert the abandoned Breakwater Resources lead-zinc mine into a naval station. The plan would turn the former mine’s existing port into a deepwater facility at a cost $60 million although total costs in 2011 were set at $175 million with an extra $12 million for the design. On August 10, 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced construction of a new docking and refuelling facility in Nanisivik for the Canadian Forces.

Some years later Engineering for the first of four phases of design for the facility were completed by the British Columbia office of WorleyParsons. The Canadian Navy stated that “The principle transportation structures used for the proposed project include the Nanisivik deep - water berth and the Arctic Bay airport. The berth will be used on an on-going basis during the
construction and operation phase of the project, for bulk material supply. The airport will be used during construction phase for transport of personnel. The road connecting the airport, project area, camp site and Arctic Bay will also be used during construction and operation periods of the Nanisivik Naval Facility (NNF). The cost of the project has dwindled to $56M, due to a re-think on some of the original design assumptions.

The military proposes that a construction camp be established for two (2) work seasons, beginning in 2015 and will house approximately 50-60 persons to construct the facility. Construction camp shelters will be pre-built mobile trailers transported to the work camp location via sealift vessel. 

The Nunavut Impact Assessment Review Board in its Jan-2013 screening decision has found a great number of deficiencies in the proponent’s submission:

The NIRB recommends to the Federal Minister that the project not proceed until better responses are received on the key items.



Building infrastructure in the arctic is an expensive and time-consuming process. In this case the military probably underestimated the amount of effort it would take to comply with the NIRB process. The NIRB has raised some valid concerns and the navy will have to spend money to hire more consultants to address those concerns. The potential for delay for a few more years is high.