Savissivik is the southernmost settlement in the Qaanaaq area – some 185 km south of Qaanaaq – on the Meteorite Island in Melville Bay. The settlement is part of the area formerly known as Nigerdlit: Those living closest to the south-west winds and the warm Foehn winds. Nigerdlit included different dwellings around Cape York, and Savissivik is the only remaining dwelling.
Savissivik was established as a trading station in 1934, and its name means “The place made of meteorite iron”, referring to the large number of meteorites found in the area.
Melville Bay is 200 km wide and opens up towards Baffin Bay. Abounding in game as few other places in Greenland, much of Melville Bay is zoned as national park and protected area, being a breeding ground for the narwhal. The area holds gigantic glaciers, and due to the bay’s size, winter ice comes early and melts slowly, meaning that some years, dog sledging is possible all year around.
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.
The aim is to seek to maintain the settlement’s current service and housing level. New building and conversion is to take place within the existing plan area. The primary business development is to target fishing, sealing and whaling and is to include improvements of the trading possibilities, the production of Greenlandic provisions as well as products for tourism. Consequently, trade functions are to be strengthened such as boat hauling. Furthermore, housing, utilities and the conditions for children and young people should be improved, e.g. via social initiatives, drop-in centres and leisure facilities.
There was 62 residents in Savissivik as of 1 January 2017, which is the largest of the three affiliated towns of Qaanaaq. The population has declined for a long time and since 1980 (123), the population is approx. halved.
The three settlements in the Qaanaaq area number 44 households and a total of 132 inhabitants. The average household size is 3 persons.
On 1 January 2010, there were a total of 119 houses in the three settlements. 117 were detached single-family houses, whereas two houses were unaccounted for. In other words, the settlements exclusively offer single-family houses. The settlements have no dormitories or senior housing, and several houses are in need of redevelopment or rehabilitation.
The population – i.e. the number of permanent residents – is not expected to increase in the years to come, and the planning period primarily calls for replacement buildings in connection with redevelopment. The settlement has available space for 15 homes.
The coast section at Melville Bay has been a key sealing and whaling site, offering rich bird cliffs and currents that allow for sealing and whaling at the ice edge or at cracks and holes in the ice, even during the coldest months. Inhabitants primarily live off hunting and fishing to some extent (Greenland halibut). The vast bird cliff holds large colonies of little auks, and bird catching along with sealing makes up the key source of income, but the inhabitants also catch narwhals, polar bears and other animals. In the Cape York area, an average of 30-50 polar bears is caught every year.
Royal Greenland operates a small trading facility in the settlement, handling, e.g., Greenland halibut and mattak. Unfortunately, the facility is currently closed, and no opening time is scheduled. In addition to a production plant, there are a freezing store and a workshop. There is no port with fixed constructions, so there is no designated port authority area.
The town plans includes some 7,000 m2 of available space for industry and port facilities.
In addition to sealing, whaling and fishing, the inhabitants earn a living on domestic industry. The shop, the school and the municipal activities also generate a limited number of jobs.
The unemployment rate in 2015 in the Qaanaaq district, with its 17.8%, was the second highest in Avannaata Municipality, only exceeded by the town of Qaanaaq (22%). This is thus much higher than both the municipal average (9.1%) and the national average (9.1%).
The settlement has no actual system of roads, merely paths made of local materials. Dog sledges and power boats are the primary means of transport.
The settlement has a helistop located on a small foreland. It is operated all year, transporting passengers, mail and goods. In the winter, the weather may mean weeks without contact to the outside world. Since Moriusaq closed, the inhabitants have had problems tanking fuel for hunting trips or trips to Qaanaaq.
In the summer, the settlement is reachable by ship, and a supply ships calls on the settlement once a year. There is no port and loading/unloading takes place on the beach.
There is a power plant in the settlement, and the water supply relies on water collection from two lakes in the summer and on melting ice in the winter. Heat is produced by means of paraffin heaters or oil-fired burners.
There is no sewerage and grey wastewater is discharged above ground. Day-time refuse is collected and deposited at the dump north of the settlement, where it is burnt. The lack of road to the dump poses a problem. There is no organised night-soil collection.
TELE Greenland handles telecommunications in the settlement via satellite dish coverage. There are also satellite-based radio and TV.
There are two areas for centre and public functions in the settlement. Farthest to the west is an area featuring a shop, warehouse, freezing store, school chapel, settlement school and a skin processing facility. Towards the east are a service house, a settlement office, a workshop and a production facility as well as a power plant. The settlement also features a nursing station.
The settlement school, Piitaaaqqap Atuarfia, offers forms 1 through 9. Numbering around 15 pupils, the school was extended in 1998-99 with new rooms and a library.