Saqqaq is located approximately 100 km north of Ilulissat on the south-western part of the Peninsula Nuussuaq. Saqqaq means “the sunny side”. The place has been inhabited for several thousand years, but was founded as the colony of Ritenbenk in 1755, which was later (1781) moved to Arveprinsens Ejland (Alluitsoq). The settlement is a well-functioning fishing, sealing and whaling community, but also a tourist destination. Links between Saqqaq and the neighbouring settlement Qeqertaq are close.
The settlement is a harmonious community consisting of circular, open groups of single-family houses around the landscape peaks. The groups of houses are connected from the east to the west by lower-lying systems of paths and roads that meet in front of the central area by the coast. At this place, the community facilities of the settlement are located.
Provisions and subareas
The general provisions apply to all subareas of the municipalities in towns, settlements and open country areas. The provisions are general and do not consider the local conditions in the subareas.
The overall provisions for each subarea are the basis for the municipality"s granting of area allotments and building permits.
At a minimum, the service level and housing supply in Saqqaq should be sustained. Land is to be zoned for development of the fishing trade and the connected port areas and infrastructure. Likewise, tourism is to be further developed and strengthened by drawing on the obvious potentials of the settlement, such as its physical settings, location and cultural activities offered. A solution is to be found in order to improve the presentation of the site of archaeological finds. The architectural heritage should be used actively to create jobs. Housing conditions, community facilities and waste management are to be improved to prevent outward migration and to shine up the area.
The population in Saqqaq has varied in the last 40 years with a maximum of 212 in 1997 and a minimum of 107 in 1989. Since 1997, the population has again been steadily declining and in 2017 the settlement has 154 inhabitants. Outward migration is mainly to neighbouring settlements or to the towns. It is anticipated that population will continue to fall. Therefore, the main requirement of the present planning period will be replacement buildings.
All houses in Saqqaq are detached, 1½-storey single-family houses. A large part of the houses is in need of repair, and some have been abandoned. A number of these could prove useful for other purposes.
In the town plan, the remaining capacity in Saqqaq is estimated to approximately 40 homes.
Saqqaq is an active fishing port with processing facilities from 2005 owned by Royal Greenland A/S. Employing up to ten people in the peak season, the factory mainly concentrates on Greenland halibut processing. Existing capacity for fishing enterprises is limited, and the factory is situated right next to the residential area. Naalakkersuisut has designated the area between the port and the island as a port authority area. This stretches halfway around the island.
Tourism, which is other main source of revenue, is linked to the attractions of the ice fiord, hiking along lakes and rivers and other nature experiences in the hinterland, including sledge dog rides to the local glacier. The house of Hannibal Fencker and the archaeological site also attract tourists. The settlement has its own tourist association.
The service sector, the shop, school and various municipal plants and offices, as well as sealing and whaling provide jobs in the settlement. Overall, the employment rate in the settlements of Ilulissat has declined since 2010. The four settlements in the Ilulissat district had a total unemployment rate of 6.7% in 2015, which is lower than for Ilulissat (7.7%). Both Ilulissat and Uummannaq municipalities have a total unemployment rate of 6.7%, which is Avannaata Kommunia's lowest, and thus also slightly lower than the municipal average (9.1%). The unemployment rate in the settlements of the Ilulissat district is also somewhat lower than the national average (9.1%).
In the town plan, the remaining capacity for industry and port facilities in Saqqaq is estimated to approximately 1,000 m².
The settlement is served by a helistop located in the eastern part of the settlement. In addition, the settlement is serviced weekly by ferry (Disko Line).
The system of roads consists of roads going from the helistop in the eastern part to the dump and port in the western part of the settlement. The road leading to the dump and night-soil discharge facilities passes the fish factory. The oldest buildings are located in the centre of the settlement side by side with primary service functions. Side roads connect surrounding residential areas to the main road. The system primarily consists of paths.
Nukissiorfiit handles the technical operations, including the diesel-powered power plant. Water supply is based on surface water from a lake north of the settlement. From the lake, which is surrounded by a water protection zone, water is pumped to a tank by the fish factory from where it is distributed to two bottling houses. Houses are heated by independent oil-fired boilers. There are no sewerage facilities in the settlement. Waste and night soil are deposited in the dump.
TELE Greenland A/S handles telecommunications.
The settlement has a school (Naatap Atuarfia) attended by approximately 28 pupils, a nursing station and a community workshop, an all-purpose shop and a combined village hall and service house. Childcare is at the school.
Cultural heritage goes back thousands of years. To the west of the settlement, archaeological finds have been made of an ancient Arctic culture, the Saqqaq culture, which dates back to approximately 2500 BC. The culture has been named after the settlement.
There are also several preservation-worthy buildings of newer time, altogether forming an environment of conservation interest, including the house of Hannibal Fencker, known for its garden and greenhouses. The following buildings have been included on the list of preservation-worthy buildings: warehouses (B-67, B.69, and B-72), former colonial factor’s residence (B-73), the former village hall (B-86) and the church (B-143) built in 1909.
An area has been zoned for a soccer field by the school. The majority of cultural and community activities takes place in the village hall. In addition, Saqqaq also hosts the annual Saqqaq Midnight Sun Festival (SMS Festival), at which young people discuss the future and culture while accompanied by the music of local bands.