Iqaluit decides against Upper Base development

Council withdraws approval of light industrial zone


Iqaluit City Council voted Oct. 12 against a light industrial zone in the Upper Base, four weeks after a narrow vote in favour of the development.

At its Oct. 12 meeting, the council unanimously rescinded a Sept. 14 motion which approved the survey sketch to develop Upper Base with nine light industrial lots.

Coun. Romeyn Stevenson tabled the motion to rescind the approval at the urgings of his absent colleague, Coun. Mat Knickelbein, and then tabled a new motion on whether to approve the light industrial development.

Knickelbein was the only councillor absent for the Oct. 12 votes, which both rejected development unanimously.

In making his and Knickelbein’s case to the rest of council, Stevenson said he would have voted differently on Sept. 14 had city staff not misinformed him about the nature of the development.

“I felt that I had voted incorrectly on this and I would not have voted to approve this,” Stevenson said.

Stevenson, along with Coun. Jimmy Kilabuk, Coun. Simon Nattaq and Coun. David Ell, had voted to approve the development on Sept. 14.

Couns. Knickelbein, Mary Wilman and Mary Akpalialuk voted against.

Coun. Natsiq Kango was absent for the Sept. 14 vote, and asked Stevenson for a summary after the motion was rescinded.

Stevenson argued that a light industrial development would allow types of businesses that were not suitable so near to the newest and largest residential neighbourhood in Iqaluit, the Plateau.

However, on Sept. 14 Michele Bertol, the head of planning and lands, explained to council that the Upper Base light industrial zone would have a zoning restriction to prevent the messier types of businesses from setting up there.

When Stevenson asked Bertol for examples of light industrial uses, Bertol omitted uses which she intended to have prohibited on Upper Base, such as an auto garage or snowmobile shop.

At the time Knickelbein accused Bertol of misleading council with her answer to Stevenson’s question.

Other concerns included traffic to Upper Base passing through the Plateau via the road built last summer.

Bertol said she had intended to prohibit commercial traffic from using the new road and divert it to Upper Base Road, which is to be upgraded in summer 2011.

Councillors had expressed doubt that a sign would deter drivers from using the tempting shortcut to Upper Base, even with the city’s by-law department issuing tickets for such violations.

When councillors voted on the light industrial development again on Oct. 12, they did not ask for Bertol to defend her earlier position.

After the vote Bertol told Nunatsiaq News, “there isn’t a week that goes by that somebody doesn’t come to the planning department and ask if we have any lots for light industrial.”

But with the light industrial zone officially dead, Bertol said she won’t re-open the issue until the council asks her to.

“It’s as if I had never explained that we would have to limit the type of uses that would be permitted in that area,” she said.

There are no light industrial lots available in Iqaluit, she explained.

Upper Base was marked for light industrial development in the city’s general plan which the council last summer, she said.

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