Kangaatsiaq, which means the little cape, is located some 200 km north of the arctic circle. As the name implies, Kangaatsiaq hugs a low mountain and was a residence long before it became a town. The town scene is characterised by single-family homes in a range of colours, dogs, sledges, drying racks for fish and meat, stretched seal skin, yarn, buoys and kayaks. Recent years have seen urban development, albeit limited, primarily in the northern part of town.
Being the smallest town in the municipality, Kangaatsiaq offers fewer functions and service facilities that most other towns.
Previously an administration town in Kangaatsiaq Municipality (established in 1950), the town has four settlements: Attu, Niaqornaarsuk, Ikerasaarsuk and Iginniarfik, which are all located south of Kangaatsiaq.
Kangaatsiaq and its settlements are located in the south-westernmost part of Qaasuitsup Municipality and belong to the area around Disko Bay. Located by the sea, the town is part of a fjord and archipelago system holding numerous islands and bays, spanning around 150 km. Thanks to its location, there are plenty of possibilities for fishing, sealing and whaling as well as natural experiences in the long fiord system, which runs from Sisimiut to the south to Aasiaat to the north. The system consists of long, braided fiords with numerous islands, inlets, bays and small lakes. The waters are relatively protected, meaning that you can travel by foot, boat or kayak. The fauna includes, among other things, ringed seals, reindeer, foxes, hares and a range of birds such as eiders, kittiwakes, mallards and whitefronted geese.
In the future, Kangaatsiaq is to be developed as a local town and its primary public and private service is to be provided in cooperation with neighbouring towns. Future urban development is to take place within the existing frameworks, alternatively towards the northeast. Especially, the conditions for fishing, sealing, whaling and related production should be improved, and areas are to be secured for extending production facilities, boat workshops etc. and better infrastructure.
It is also key that there is sufficient space for social institutions and children and youth institutions, outdoor and indoor, as well as establishment of housing and centres for senior citizens.
The municipality’s overall vision and objectives guide the physical development along with the citizens’ wishes. Consequently, the outcome differs across towns and settlements as shown here:
actions_kangaatsiaq.pdf (56.7 KB)
The town numbers 536 inhabitants (as of 1 January 2017), corresponding to around eight per cent of the municipality’s population. The population has reduced considerably since it peaked in 1997 with 690 inhabitants. There will be both fewer men and women. On the other hand, the town has grown by 30% in the period 1980-2017 (411 inhabitants in 1980). The four associated settlements are relatively large, with almost 650 inhabitants in total, but here too there has been a decline in the population since the 1990s, near Ikerasaaruk, which has had a stable population since 1995.
The town numbers 175 households, i.e. the average household size is 3.1 persons.
Kangaatsiaq features mostly single-family houses. Out of some 220 homes, 88 per cent are single-family houses and 12 per cent semi-detached houses. The Government of Greenland owns 17 homes in the town, corresponding to almost eight per cent. The town holds no residential multi-storey buildings or student housing, and one retirement home (B-667) with eight places.
Areas have been zoned for housing in the north-eastern part of the town, and the existing town holds limited possibilities for new building. There is available space for around 100 homes, which covers the demand in the planning period.
Work places are primarily located in the south-western part of the town, near the port and town centre. There is also a partly developed industrial area in the northern part of town.
The three main trades – measured as the number of jobs (2010 figures) – are public administration and service (179), commerce and repair companies (92) and fishing (49). In total, there are almost 400 jobs in town. The unemployment rate in Kangaatsiaq was 17.1% in 2015, which is about twice as high as the other districts in the municipality (8.2-10.9%). It is thus also far higher than both the municipal average (10.7%) and the national average (9.1%).
Fishing covers, e.g., fishing using pound nets, crabbing and dinghy fishing. The town’s fish factory (B-28) is run by Royal Greenland, processing lumpsuckers, catfish and cods – for freezing or drying. At the height of the season, the factory employs around 25 persons.
Another important trade in the Kangaatsiaq area, tourism is expected to see the highest growth in the next couple of years. In the winter, tourists go on dog sledge rides with local sealers. The dog sledge ride from Kangaatsiaq to Kangerlussuaq takes around four days. In the summer, tourists can go on boat or kayak trips to spot whales in the bay. There are also extremely good chances of experiencing aurora borealis.
The town plan includes available space amounting to approximately 10,500 m² for industry and port facilities.
The system of roads and paths is limited, running from the town centre round the north and south, respectively, of the cape, cf. the main structure map.
The airfield is a helistop without lounge facilities, north of the town. Helicopter service to Aasiaat runs three times a week from November to April. The municipal council has decided to construct a runway for fixed-wing aircrafts in Kangaatsiaq. The final location, layout and design as well as road access are yet to be clarified in more detailed studies, in cooperation with the Government of Greenland and Greenland Airports. Typically, establishment and financing of airports are a matter for the Government of Greenland. Airports are owned and operated by Greenland Airports.
The Kangaatsiaq port is small, having a quay length of 12 metres and depth of three metres. Port areas are limited, covering an area of around 2,000 m2. Naalakkersuisut has designated a port authority area between the quay and the pier. The port is navigable from May to December. From January to April, the port is navigable depending on ice conditions. The schooner quay is used for goods, passengers and trading. From May to October, Diskoline offers passenger and goods transport to and from Aasiaat, as do private operators.
In the winter, dog sledges and snowmobiles are the most suitable means of transport.
Power, water and heat are provided by Nukissiorfiit. Power is produced using a diesel-driven power plant (B-621), and the town also features an emergency power plant. Water supply is based on surface water abstracted from two lakes northeast of the town by means of a network of pipes and bottling houses. The town does not offer district heating, rather individual heating.
Refuse services include day-time refuse and night soil. Day-time refuse is to be incinerated at the incineration plant or taken to the dump. Both facilities are located northeast of the town. Chemical waste and metal are to be deposited at the dump.
The night soil disposal site lies in the northern end of town, close to houses. Only a newer number of semi-detached houses have sewers that discharge at the night soil disposal site. An area is to be assigned to the new dump location.
Telecommunications is provided by TELE Greenland, which operates a telecommunications system at the top of the cape. With the construction of the sea cable to Aasiaat, Kangaatsiaq has also been connected to the cable.
Public and private services are gathered in the town centre and by the port in the south-western part of town. Kangaatsiaq has a supermarket and a cafe.
The town does not have a tourist office, but overnight accommodation is available at Entreprenør Lynge & Jensen APS, Polar Cab Inn Franz Petersen and at the Siniffik Hostel. Private persons also offer accommodation.
Child-care facilities comprise a recreational club (B-390) for 30 pupils in the first to third forms, kindergarten (B-861) with 12 day nursery places and 20 kindergarten places. Kangaatsiaq also offers a health-care station featuring a dental clinic and a retirement home.
The school (B-65 and B-823) houses some 110 pupils from forms one through ten (the 2013-14 school year). Near the school lie a library, recreational club and before-and-after-school care.
The town also has a vocational school (Piareersarfik) which has a dormitory.