City fast-tracks new housing subdivision

Project will be pushed through in less than a year instead of the usual two

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

DENISE RIDEOUT

The city’s lands department is fast-tracking the planning and construction of a new subdivision that will contain as many as 65 housing units.

It generally takes city staff and engineers a couple of years to build a new subdivision. But, eager to ease the city’s housing crunch, the lands department is planning to have the subdivision constructed by the end of next year.

“Usually this is a two-year process. We’re compacting this into less than a one-year process,” said an excited Chrystal Fuller, director of the city’s lands department.

“The whole goal is to have this subdivision constructed by September 2003,” she told city council during an Aug. 27 meeting.

That means people could start building homes and contractors could put up apartment complexes during the 2003 building season.

And there’s room in the proposed subdivision — which would extend from the Road to Nowhere subdivision — for as many as 65 units. City planners envision a subdivision that includes a variety of housing types, such as duplexes, four-plexes, six-plexes, eight-plexes and townhouses.

Pressure has been mounting on city council in recent years to find more lots for housing development. Iqaluit experienced an influx of new residents after the Nunavut territory was created and Iqaluit became the capital city. Soon, the city found itself with a lack of building lots to meet housing needs.

Iqaluit residents, local building contractors and the Nunavut government have criticized city council for not doing more to develop land in Iqaluit.

The proposed subdivision is the city’s answer to those demands, Fuller said.

This month, city planners got together for a brain-storming session to find more lots. They looked at city maps, seeking out potential areas for future development. They identified three options: developing the area near Arctic College, extending Tundra Valley or extending past the Road to Nowhere subdivision.

The planners determined the Arctic College area would be too costly to develop because it isn’t connected to water and sewer pipes. Tundra Valley, which also lacks water and sewer pipes, wouldn’t be able to handle large dwellings such as duplexes or row houses.

City planners decided the Road to Nowhere area was best suited for development. The new subdivision is being dubbed the “Lake subdivision” because houses and buildings would wrap around a small lake.

Lake subdivision is ideal, Fuller said, because utilidor pipes are already in place, which means it’s likely to be developed the fastest.

Fuller told council work can progress quickly, with surveying beginning in November, design completed in February and construction starting next summer.

That news evoked excitement from city councillors.

“I like this. It’s short and sweet. Let’s get the lots out there,” councillor Chris Wilson said.

“My first reaction is ‘Wow, this is quick,’” said deputy mayor Kirt Ejesiak.

According to preliminary design plans, Lake subdivision will have a lot available for an institution such as a church, daycare or community centre.

The designers also want to incorporate the surrounding landscape, add walking trails and snowmobile routes, a picnic area, and possibly use the lake as a swimming area or outdoor skating rink.

“I think this is an exciting project that’s going to give the community Ski-doo trails, walking trails and recreation facilities,” said Rick Butler, the city’s chief administrative officer.

The city’s next focus is on getting the money to finance the project.

Initially, the planners looked at three options: asking private developers to finance the subdivision, having the City of Iqaluit pay for it or forming a partnership with the Nunavut government.

The advantage of going with private contractors is that the city wouldn’t have to pay upfront. But, Fuller said, the city has never taken this approach before and wasn’t sure about how it would work.

In the end, they determined the quickest way of proceeding would be for the city to back the project. The city’s administration isn’t sure yet how to pay for the construction, and may have to resort to borrowing money.

On top of that, the city planners have to determine the price of lots, conduct a ballot draw to distribute them and construct roads and other infrastructure so the construction of buildings can begin in September 2003.

The city is holding an open-house on Sept. 16 so members of the public can look at preliminary designs.

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