Corporation unveils Nunavut building plans



Iqalungmiut ­ along with people living in 10 other Nunavut communities ­ will soon get a chance to work on constructing a long list of new Nunavut government office buildings and staff housing units.

Officials from the Nunavut Construction Corporation, the contractor overseeing development projects for the Nunavut government, talked publicly this week about its plans at a meeting in Iqaluit.

The NCC will build, own and operate all the new office and residential buildings needed for Nunavut’s government.

It’s owned by Nunavut’s four Inuit birthright development corporations, which means it’s owned by all beneficiaries of the Nunavut land claims agreement.

Since the company’s creation, NCC officials haven’t gone out of their way to talk about their plans with those beneficiaries.

But that changed Monday night, when a delegation from NCC, along with federal government representatives, responded to a request from Iqaluit’s town council to meet publicly and discuss what NCC is and how it will go about its business in Nunavut.

Hire and train Inuit

Members of the Town of Iqaluit’s planning committee were told that part of NCC’s corporate mandate is to bring economic benefits to Nunavut businesses and residents, as well as train and employ a representative number of Inuit.

“That really is the sole purpose of Nunavut Construction and why it was set up,” said Claire Basler, NCC’s vice-president of construction.

Basler is on loan to the NCC from the Kitikmeot Corporation.

Decentralization plans

Creating a decentralized Nunavut government means new buildings will be go up in 11 communities across the three regions of Nunavut.

Iqaluit, as Nunavut’s capital, will have an influx of about 374 new government employees, while about 288 current Iqaluit employess will be transferred to 10 other communities.

Four-year plan

To accommodate those numbers, NCC will construct 250 residential housing units, and between 10 and 12 office buildings. This project begins this year and should wrap up in 2001.

Housing construction will create about 90 new jobs when the first phase begins this summer.

NCC will build 66 new housing units this year in Iqaluit, Igloolik, Cape Dorset, Arviat and Kugluktuk.

They will build 80 more next year, 74 the year after, and 30 in the year 2000.

During the life of the project about 1,400 construction and related jobs are expected from the ongoing work to prepare for the Nunavut government.

The NCC will develop and own all interim projects constructed for Nunavut.

The NCC will also act as general contractor on these projects. NCC will then lease these buildings to the Nunavut government for at least the first 20 years of its existence.

Jim Davidson of Public Works Canada is overseeing the office and residential requirements on behalf of Nunavut until that government is up and running in 1999.

He’s also in charge of making sure there’s enough space available for federal government employees.

Won’t be ready by 1999

He said it’s unrealistic to think everything will be in place for the new government when the Northwest Territories divides in two years.

“The facilities will not be ready in all communities for April 1, 1999,” Davidson said.

“If we pushed for that our feeling is we’d really jeopardize the training strategy and the local economic spinoff.”

Davidson said he expects it will take at least another year for jobs to be moved from Iqaluit out to other communities.

NCC told the committee that it’s committed to hiring Inuit. Basler said the corporation’s goal is to reach a minimum target of 50 per cent Inuit employment this year and 85 per cent by 1999.

“We also anticipate to be able to conduct trades training and have journeymen tradespeople graduate during the life of this project,” Basler said.

The project also provides an opportunity to train Inuit for management positions during the next four to five years.

As the headquarters for the Nunavut government, Iqaluit will be the hot spot for construction.

Basler said NCC will tender all contracts and subcontracts through an open bidding process, but it will only advertise within Nunavut. Inuit employment expectations will be included in tenders.

Recently the Iqaluit-based Full Circle Architecture firm was chosen as consultant for the project through this process, Basler said.

Two new buildings for Iqaluit

NCC will construct 20 residential units in Iqaluit this year. In the 1998 construction season, NCC plans to build two office buildings. An additional 20 housing units will be build in 1999.

Davidson said Ottawa is willing to front the money for lot development in Iqaluit and other hamlets to get the projects going. He suggested the federal government could later recapture these dollars when developed lots are leased to the private sector.

NCC plans to hold consultation meetings in all the affected communities to discuss its plans.

Stress on Iqaluit

Iqaluit Mayor Joe Kunuk said an increase in population will put more stress on municipal services.

He wanted some assurance that social needs in the communities will be addressed along with housing requirements.

“For the social well being of our community and other communities, the dollar signs aren’t as important to us as the health of the community.

“We need to work very closely with the presenters in this room so that not one community receives the full brunt of the benefits, which in turn provides more social chaos.”

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