Iqaluit returns lots to Plateau lottery-winners

Later house purchase does not negate first-time homebuyer lottery win – council


On Aug. 17, two aspiring Iqaluit homeowners successfully convinced City Council to award them two lots in the next phase of development on the Plateau, after city staff revoked their lottery win.

Michel Gilbert and Martin Plante won lots as first-time homeowners in the March 24 draw for new Plateau lots on which to build houses.

The two registered as Category 1, first-time homeowners who had lived in Iqaluit more than two years.
But on May 19 the two men together bought a house elsewhere, before the city had transferred the Plateau leases to them.

A June 9 letter from city planner Michele Bertol informed the men they no longer qualified as first-time homebuyers and informed them they would no longer receive the lots that they had won in the March 24 lottery.

Gilbert attended a later council meeting to argue his case, but the council’s agenda at the time did not include a request for decision that would have decided the case one way or another.

That meeting was an “in camera” session, meaning the public and the media were unable to attend.

The council asked Gilbert to return to a later session — Aug. 17 — and argue their case in public.

The two men, who are francophones who speak English with difficulty, hired local lawyer Michael Chandler to address city council and explain their complaint.

Chandler’s appearance as legal counsel drove the council into confusion as its members, city staff and Chandler debated whether they should hear Gilbert and Plante’s case in public.

Normally all legal, land or staffing matters are held in camera, away from the prying eyes of the public and the media.

Chandler explained that the two men were trying to start a taxi business, and jointly bought the house to use as staff housing independent of the Plateau lease lottery.

Once Chandler presented Gilbert and Plante’s case, they asked Bertol to explain why she had taken the lots away from them, given that they had won the lottery while eligible.

Bertol argued that the lottery was only the method of selecting applicants because there are always more people who want new lots than there are lots to distribute.

First-time homebuyers get priority, and she said Gilbert and Plante had exploited a “loophole” in the city’s procedures to get lots intended for people to build their first homes, but use them instead for staff housing while they lived elsewhere.

Chandler had argued that the city’s procedures did not specify that applicants needed to maintain their eligibility as first-time homebuyers after the lottery was over.

With only one abstention — Coun. Jimmy Kilabuk — the entire council voted to give Gilbert and Plante their Plateau lots.

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