Site occupied by Cold War era building envisioned as new home for agency
Nunavut Tourism eyes old Butler
Nunavut Tourism may soon jump into the real estate game after Iqaluit city council approved last week the organization's proposal to buy the city's last Cold War-era Butler building.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¨ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¨
Council passed third reading of a motion approving the sale of the battered white building to Nunavut Tourism for $81,000. CEO Paul Lewis said the organization's board has yet to sign off on the deal.
Councillors are glad to be rid of the building, the condition of which is costing the city money in increased insurance premiums. Councillor Jimmy Kilabuk remembers when Butler buildings were first built and said he was glad to see the last of them go.
"This is very good news," added deputy mayor Al Hayward.
The sale hasn't gone through yet. City engineering director Geoff Baker said the site underwent a basic environmental assessment conducted by Jacques Whitford in 2004 which revealed "evidence of potential and/or actual environmental contamination."
In 2003, a fuel oil leak spilled into the ground. That soil was removed but no one ever checked to see if that fixed the problem. And since the Lower Base area was covered with similar buildings, it's likely the whole area is laden with the same type of contamination.
Baker said the city offered the Butler building for sale on an "as-is" basis and the buyer would be responsible for any environmental issues.
Nunavut Tourism is looking at the site as a way to reduce expenses by cutting out rental payments and leasing excess space to other firms.
Lewis said Nunavut Tourism envisions a two-storey building on the site, with office space and possibly apartments or a permanent visitors' centre to replace the one now sharing space in the Iqaluit Centennial Library.
"The next step would be to present council with a formal plan," he said.
The prefabricated buildings were brought to Iqaluit en masse by the United States military in the 1950s and once covered most of the city's Lower Base area.
Butler buildings were originally used as barracks, then later as staff housing by the Government of the Northwest Territories. The city now uses it for storage.