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Phase 1: Desktop Study, September 15, 2021 – December 31, 2021. Geotechnical Firm: Englobe Corp. 

Phase 2: Field Work, April 1, 2022-December 31st, 2022. Geotechnical Firm: EXP

The piece of land selected for our building is one of few remaining in Cambridge Bay that meets our organization’s requirements of a central location for easy access by Elders and Youth, coastal proximity for access to boats, skidoo and sled paths, and sufficient land area to design and implement outdoor cultural activity areas. This large piece of land has not been developed to date due to it being zoned as Commissioner’s Land. In support of the Kuugalak cultural campus, the Municipality voted to rezone 2550 square meters of this land for our use. Despite its many positive attributes, the land is also positioned to be highly impacted by climate change. 


Our first Climate Risk Assessment highlighted several potential infrastructure and site vulnerabilities to a changing climate. The site is adjacent to a seasonal drainage corridor, which is prone to spring flooding. The land is sloped, and seasonal washouts might occur (exacerbated by rapid snow melts and increased precipitation). Radar interferometry maps show the area to be highly impacted by terrain instability, including permafrost degradation. These are all factors which are predicted to increase with the onset of climate change. With the Canadian Arctic being highly prone to climate risk, we see our building project as an opportunity to devise innovative new solutions to community adaptation around these issues.  

To ensure the long term sustainability of infrastructure on the Kuugalak cultural campus, we initiated a series of geotechnical studies of the site to assess the extent of these concerns and adjust the foundation designs of our new building to adapt to them. A thorough geotechnical study of the land allows us to 1) assess the suitability of the site for current and future infrastructure, 2) identify where additional studies are warranted, 3) design building foundations appropriate to current and future site conditions, and 4) implement adequate mitigation measures (such as thermosyphons, landscaping, operation and maintenance practices) if necessary. 

To accomplish this work, we pursued the following steps:

  • We retained the services of Englobe Corp. to conduct a desktop exercise during fall 2021, looking at current and future permafrost conditions, historical water drainage level and slope assessment. This desktop exercise includes a strong climate lens (with an understanding of the high uncertainties associated with such work), recommendations on additional studies required and potential solutions. 

  • In May 2022 we worked with EXP to conduct geotechnical fieldwork on the acquired piece of land, along with a topographic survey. The field work includes a borehole program to establish depth to rock, in-situ ice content/salinity and site-specific thermistor program. Ground temperature will be measured seasonally to determine the depth of the active layer.


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December 2021 Geotechnical Desktop Study

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June 2022 Geotechnical Field Research Report

This research program was generously supported by:

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