Nunavik to get 500 new homes under Plan Nord
Scheme combines social housing, private homeownership, co-op housing
(updated at 12:00 a.m., May 10)
QUEBEC CITY — The “tenacity” of Nunavimmiut paid off May 9 when Quebec announced it will build 500 new housing units in the region over the next five years as part of province’s Plan Nord.
“We’ve heard your call,” said Nathalie Normandeau, Quebec’s minister responsible for Plan Nord, at the development scheme’s launch at the Lévis congress centre outside Quebec City,
Quebec says it will build 300 new public housing units in the region, along with 200 housing units under a new home-ownership program by 2016.
Of the 200 private homes, 150 homes are destined for individual homeowners while another 50 will be built through co-operative housing projects.
Together with the 2010 renewal of a five-year social housing agreement, in which the federal and provincial governments committed to build 340 housing units, that means Nunavik can expect 840 new units to be built across the region by 2016.
“Plan Nord has been a long time coming,” said Maggie Emudluk, chair of the Kativik Regional Government. “The big item is housing and this [announcement] is very good news for the region.”
Few details were available about the home ownership program, except that it is meant to be an improved version of a former program that offers subsidies to home buyers.
Emudluk says she hopes the new program will offer enough of an incentive to kickstart a housing market that is largely absent in a region where less than two per cent of the population owns a home.
“That will alleviate the need for social housing,” she said. “Up until now, it’s been too expensive for most Nunavimmiut to buy a home but the new program will make it more attractive.”
Because housing in Nunavik is a shared responsibility between Quebec and Canada, Geoffrey Kelley, Quebec’s native affairs minister, said that he plans to meet with his new federal counterpart on plans to construct an additional 500 units in the region.
Kelley said he will continue to look for ways to bolster home ownership.
“There’s a commitment to work together to make that work,” Kelley said. “For every private home we build, that’s one less request for social housing.”
To maintain the existing housing stock, Quebec’s Societé d’habitation du Québec has also committed to renovating 482 housing units in the region between 2011 and 2014.
But housing was just one small part of Quebec’s long-awaited Plan Nord.
Charest said the scheme would invest $80 billion of private and public money into the North over the next 25 years, touting the project as one of “the most important sustainable development projects in the world.”
Plan Nord will sink a total of $1.2 billion into infrastructure across Quebec’s north, or in Nunavik’s case, studies to determine the feasibility of certain transportation links, such as roads and a deepwater port.
At least 11 new mining projects across the territory covered by Plan Nord are poised to benefit from that infrastructure and generate more than $8 billion in investments and nearly 4,000 jobs.
That includes a phase two for Nunavik’s Xstrata Raglan mine, and development of Canadian Royalties’ Nunavik Nickel Mine and Adriana Resources’ Lac Otelnuk iron project.
Also under the plan, Quebec proposes to develop 3,500 megawatts of renewable energy in addition to the 24,000 megawatts already generated in the North.
That will include a wind-diesel energy project in Kangiqsualujjuaq, to be operated by Hydro-Québec, planned for the period between 2015 and 2017.
Hydro-Québec studies show potential for several more wind enery projects along Nunavik’s Ungava coast and along the Hudson Strait.
Energy plans also include a pilot project to set up an underwater generator in Kuujjuaq in 2012 to draw energy from water currents, which would have a capacity of 250 kilowatts.
If that experiment is successful, official say there is potential for several more underwater generator installations across the province’s north.
But officials say announcements stating which northern rivers will be tapped for the hydro-electric power will come later in Plan Nord’s implementation.
Here are more projects Nunavik will see rolled out in the Plan’s first five years:
• the restoration of an estimated dozen abandoned mining and exploration sites in Nunavik by 2017, at the cost of $250 million;
• the implementation a tourism strategy for the region that would make the region a “sustainable, world-class tourist destination” by 2021;
• the establishment of a new program for school success to be developed by the Kativik School Board as well as the creation of a Nunavik Sivuniksavut college-preparation program;
• studies to determine the feasibility of a road or rail link connecting Kuujjuaq to southern network as well as the feasibility of a deepwater port in Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuaraapik and a link connecting that community to the James Bay route via Radisson;
– the creation of a bio-food research network, which could include the construction of greenhouses and support for marketing local products, such as berries.
But specific details on these and other projects are to still to be worked out.
Quebec announced the creation of the Societé du Plan Nord to help implement and oversee the plan’s many projects – a body that is expected to include membership from regional leaders.
Emudluk stressed that the Plan Nord is an ongoing process in which Nunavik will continue to play a role.
“This is an opportunity to try and improve the living conditions in Nunavik,” she said. “We need to have our say.”
Despite the rejection of the Nunavik Regional Government model last month, Kelley says that won’t change the working relationship between Nunavik and Quebec.
“We’ll continue to work with [Inuit] leadership,” he said. “For every one of these projects, requirements under the James Bay agreement for environmental reviews remain.
“Plan Nord is an added value.”