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Condo ownership for GN staff?

Government experiments with a new way of supplying desperately needed staff housing


Too many employees, not enough housing: the problem has bedeviled Nunavut government planners even before the creation of the new territory on April 1, 1999.

Even now, scores of vacant jobs sit empty in Iqaluit and the 10 decentralized communities because the government doesn’t know where to house new employees.

So as a partial fix, the Nunavut Housing Corporation is moving forward this summer on a new staff housing scheme: a plan that urges groups of employees to band together and form condominium corporations.

Condominiums are multi-unit apartment or rowhouse structures where each occupant owns his or her unit. Common areas of the buildings are owned and maintained by the condominium corporation.

“It’s to try to increase the overall stock of housing, and staff housing first of all, but generally, housing overall in the communities that acquire it, and to be able to provide affordable housing options for our employees,” said Kelvin Ng, Nunavut’s housing minister.

This year, construction contracts for 181 condominium units scattered throughout 10 Nunavut communities have been awarded.

They include 61 units for Iqaluit, but only 30 of those appear to be going forward because of roadblocks thrown up by the City of Iqaluit.

“There are 30 units that are in the process of being finalized up there in the new subdivision area, the Road to Nowhere,” Ng said.

“But there are an additional 31 units where the developers are having problems with the land tenure with the city, and permitting, and that type of thing, from what we’ve been advised.”

The first 16 of Iqaluit’s GN staff condominium units will serve as a test case that will guide the development and construction of the other condominium units.

The GN says it will allow eligible staff to enter into lease-to-purchase agreements until condominium corporations are set up. They’re expecting that most condominium clients will be able to borrow from the bank to finance their purchases, but they say they’ll “closely counsel” staff to help them through the process.

Staff may also use the lease-to-purchase arrangement to give themselves time to decide whether or not they want to become condominium owners.

As of this summer, the housing corporation is sponsoring condominium construction in the following communities:

Arviat is to get 20 units, Cambridge Bay 10, Cape Dorset 20, Gjoa Haven five, Iqaluit 61 (though 31 are being held up by city bureaucracy), Igloolik 10, Kugluktuk five, Pangnirtung 20, Rankin Inlet 10 and Pond Inlet 20.

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