'It is the biggest construction season the Eastern Arctic has ever seen.'

NHC plans massive build to catch up this year


The Nunavut Housing Corp. will bounce back from a bungled 2007 construction season, says the corporation's president.

Peter Scott said the corporation plans to start or complete 450 housing units across Nunavut this year and get back on schedule for building a total of 725 units with the $200 million Nunavut Housing Trust.

"It is the biggest construction season the Eastern Arctic has ever seen. Ever," Scott said in an interview this past Tuesday.

Last year's construction season was plagued with sealift screw-ups and staff shortages, found Sheila Fraser, the Auditor General. That meant that of 96 planned units, only 20 actually got built. (See story page 3.)

Scott said some construction work has already started and he doesn't see problems finding trades workers or project managers, which was a problem last year.

While the corporation wants to build as many units as possible this year, Scott said the Nunavut Housing Trust's other main goal is to train Inuit workers, and he's willing to see some projects delayed if that's what it takes to meet Inuit employment goals.

"I don't want to jeopardize that just for the sake of speeding up construction," he said.

Scott also expects to see the completion this summer of three social housing projects that are part of a major redevelopment near Iqaluit's downtown.

The corporation plans to finish a 10-plex and two five-plex rowhouses on Umiaq Crescent, where some old single-family houses now sit empty and boarded up.

The corporation and the city had disagreed over design standards for the project's master plan, but the NHC made allowances that will include the construction of a playground and pathway through the middle of what will eventually be a block of apartments and rowhouses.

"It's a great improvement on their original proposal," said Michelle Bertol, Iqaluit's director of planning and lands, at a May 13 Iqaluit City Council meeting.

Council passed a package of variances that will allow the project to go ahead. The city also plans to widen Umiaq crescent by two metres.

But Scott downplayed the extent to which NHC altered its plans in response to the city's desires.

The design for the buildings comes from projects in Cambridge Bay and Kugluktuk, he said. The only change is that Iqaluit's units are designed for utilidor service, not trucked water and sewage.

Urban design isn't the housing corporation's job, Scott said.

"We build houses. We don't do sandboxes and walkways."

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