City asks residents to open homes to AWG visitors

Not enough room in Iqaluit hotels



Iqaluit’s hotels may be booked solid for the 2002 Arctic Winter Games, but it doesn’t mean potential visitors will be left with no place to stay.

Instead, visitors can bunk with Iqaluit families as part of a home-stay program. The city is asking any residents who have extra room in their homes — and are interested in having guests — to help out.

“It will address a very critical issue right now: the lack of accommodations for the Arctic Winter Games,” said John Matthews, Iqaluit’s mayor, at the Jan. 22 city council meeting.

The Arctic Winter Games Host Society asked the city to help facilitate the program because of the shortage of hotel and guest rooms in the city.

“We’ve had a number of people call interested in coming to the Games, but they haven’t been able to get accommodations at the local hotels,” said Tamara Macpherson, external relations manager of the Arctic Winter Games.

She said AWG staff have fielded calls from parents of the athletes, media and corporate sponsors looking for places to stay during the Games, which will be held March 17 to 23.

“There’s a lot of interest in these Games. A home-stay program is going to make these Games accessible to a broad audience,” Macpherson said.

The zero vacancy rate at hotels in Iqaluit has forced hotel staff to turn away potential visitors. The Frobisher Inn, for example, has been booked for the week of the Games for the past two years, since the AWG made it the official VIP hotel of the Games. The Navigator Inn, which will house visiting journalists, is also booked solid.

Rainer Launhardt, manager of the Frobisher Inn, said a home-stay program is a good initiative. “We support a program like this because there’s not enough room for visitors,” he said. “We all want to make this a success.”

At this week’s council meeting, Cheri Kemp-Kinnear, the community economic development officer for the city, presented councillors with details of the proposed home-stay program. Councillors voted to support the program.

To make it a success, the city has to get residents to come on board.

Kemp-Kinnear said residents can charge guests a daily fee for providing them with a place to stay. But first, residents will have to meet a handful of guidelines.

To qualify for the program, residents must have extra room in their homes. According to the rules, no more than two people and one child are allowed to stay in a 10-foot-by-10-foot room. In addition, mattresses have to be on a bed frame, and not placed directly on the floor.

Homeowners are also required to provide guests with separate towels and bed sheets, disinfect bathrooms daily and remove all prescription medicines from medicine cabinets.

The Environmental Health department drafted the guidelines to ensure guests have a healthy, clean place to stay. The department, not the city, is responsible for inspecting homes to ensure they meet the level of health and safety required.

Employees at city hall will compile a list of residents who want to take part in the

program and pass it on to the Arctic Winter Games Host Society.

“We’re not approving or disapproving anyone for the program,” Kemp-Kinnear explained. “We’re just accepting names of people who are interested.”

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