Councillors debate best way to service proposed Iqaluit subdivision

Water and sewer service could be trucked in or piped in, for site on Road to Nowhere

City councillors vote to adopt Tuesday’s development committee meeting agenda. (Photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The City of Iqaluit should push the Nunavut government to pay to extend piped water and sewer services to a proposed new subdivision, as the demand for housing continues to grow alongside the increasing cost to build infrastructure, says one city councillor.

Coun. Romeyn Stevenson said the GN has money from the federal government that would allow it to help provide the necessary infrastructure so housing could be built on the site, which is on the Road to Nowhere just east of the lake subdivision.

“Some of that money should be used for putting in place the roads and the water and the sewers that allow for housing to be built,” Stevenson said.

“We need to point out that it’s impossible and that they’re hurting themselves with that plan as it is, and that they need to work on basic infrastructure.”

The City of Iqaluit is looking to develop the land on the Road to Nowhere for residential and community use. (Photo by David Venn)

Nunavut Housing Corp. policy director Eric Doiron said money the corporation receives from the federal government must be used to build public housing, not municipal infrastructure.

However, he added the NHC is working with the city, having set up regular meetings to discuss where new housing units might go in Iqaluit.

Doiron said there might be enough space in existing subdivisions to build 400 to 600 new residential units in Iqaluit.

“This will reduce the short-term pressures (next three to five years) to find new capital investment for municipal infrastructure,” Doiron wrote in an email to Nunatsiaq News.

The Department of Community and Government Services did not reply to emailed questions from Nunatsiaq News.

City councillors met Tuesday evening for a planning and development committee meeting where Michelle Armstrong, a contract planner for the city, presented an update on the proposed subdivision.

The yellow outlined area is where the city is looking to develop buildings, roads and sewage infrastructure. (Screenshot courtesy of the City of Iqaluit)

There is money set aside in the city’s capital plan next year for an engineering study and more money that would allow construction to start in 2025, she said. However, there are a few barriers that the city must decide how it wants to overcome.

“Because the subdivision is kind of really at the end of the pipe, so to speak, that’s just creating some challenges on the infrastructure side,” Armstrong said.

There are sewers in the area that are already at maximum capacity and need to be replaced. That work is scheduled for next year.

As well, there are several intersections that might require installation of traffic lights or turning lanes; also, the city needs to increase its water supply.

Stevenson’s comments were in response to Coun. Kyle Sheppard, who advocated for city staff to look at the cost of trucked services over piped services.

Sheppard said the last time the city had an estimated cost for the subdivision, in 2014, each lot would have cost $60,000. He said that may have doubled by now, and nearly all of that is related to introducing piped services.

“I’ve never seen any data to convince me that the expansion of trucked services is a terrible idea. We can directly impact the cost of new housing in our community, we can create jobs,” he said.

Sheppard said there’s added pressure because of Nunavut 3000, the GN’s plan to build 3,000 housing units in Nunavut by 2030.

“I feel we’re significantly underestimating the demand and the ability that our community and business have to develop housing very quickly,” he said.

Mayor Solomon Awa also responded, saying he was concerned that a snowmobile path between Toonik Pond and Crazy Lake was not depicted on the map, but that it runs through where the city is planning to build a playground.

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(18) Comments:

  1. Posted by Maq-Pat on

    Lots of that land is swamp….. why not extend plateau where there is already power, roads, and wonderful views?

    • Posted by Devil’s Avocado on

      Drain the swamp!

      • Posted by Hosay on

        Once a swamp always a swamp, buildings will constantly shift with temperature change. Take our graveyard for example.

    • Posted by Why not? on

      Porque no los dos?

      We should be trying to obtain the capacity to work on both.

  2. Posted by Tom on

    For that area when there’s a bit of wind and snow it get bad quick compared to other areas, the hills around there cause a lot of air turbulence and snow to build up, if they are serious about building on this area I’d suggest utilidor over truck, would need a lot of snow clearing to get the trucks in there,
    I don’t understand why the area below the French school and down is not considered instead?
    Beautiful view of the bay too.

    • Posted by Ken on

      That area has been thought of in the past, but a few people lost their lids because it might obstruct their own view and used the excuse of it being an open area and to berry pick in the summer.
      But I agree, this are should be considered more, with the gentle slope down, each lane of lots would have an incredibly beautiful view of the ocean.
      Would be truck service too and save money for the city.
      That other area being considered get bad snow drifts and gets cut off after a windy day.

      • Posted by They’re Everywhere on

        NIMBYs are gonna NIMBY.

      • Posted by Jane on

        I just walked by the area and it does make a lot of sense to continue building that way, the area is perfect for more homes.
        This area around road to no where is so rough with huge snow banks, just not as nice, has the city looked into other areas?

  3. Posted by Consistency on

    I am glad that the skidoo trail is being talked about by someone. Our community plans never have the skidoo trails planed well (because the plans are usually done by outside consultants). But a house location; if it doesnt have “the view” is only good if it has the ability to get out of town by skidoo pulling a qamutik easily.

    • Posted by Oh? on

      Ski-doo trails? Last I checked ski-doos don’t care if there’s a trail or not, they’ll just take the shortest route.

      • Posted by Consistency on

        Pulling a qamutik that are not solid hitches (as used in other communities) on icy roads is not easy or fun. also if there were designated skidoo trails then snow could even be put there to increase the length of time they can be used in the spring before all the snow melts and the roads have no snow.

        • Posted by Jim on

          This concept is difficult for someone not from Nunavut to understand or appreciate. Also it might make too much sense.

  4. Posted by Overlander on

    I truly feel like the city needs to look into above-ground utilidor. I think it just takes some innovative planning in subdivision design, maybe a laneway between the “backyards” of houses where it runs, maybe underground just under roads as necessary or maybe high enough on steels piles that trucks can drive under. Would likely be easier to shut off in case of a leak, and easier to repair and replace as necessary. Fewer and shorter water shutdowns. Doesn’t Greenland do this?
    There must be a more efficient and effective way than the way utilidor is currently done.

    • Posted by Karl on

      This is done in Greenland, works very well, the above ground in some areas are used to save cost, in more downtown areas it’s below ground.
      Not many places use truck service for water, high cost of maintenance and life of the trucks is just a few years, plus the additional cost of paying people to drive these trucks and insurance. In the long run a proper utilidor is cheaper and more efficient.

    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      I agree with Overlander. The only way that a Utilidor system is going to work here is if it is kept (mostly) above ground. The City can’t keep burying badly designed and implemented utilidor systems and then paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to dig them up every time they fail. Trucked service is a non starter as in the long run it is far more expensive and logistically demanding than utilidor.

  5. Posted by No More Junk on

    No more underground pipes that freeze. Go with a utilador.

  6. Posted by Above grade on

    Totally agree. Keep the lines above ground and just go under when crossing a road. The permafrost is melting and shifting too much and you just have breaks underground.

  7. Posted by Homeowner on

    I really hope this proposed subdivision will not go through, this area has streams and a swamp, building on there will be a nightmare with buildings constantly shifting.
    The new arena and the Apex graveyard are fine examples of this.
    Another money pit for the city in the long run, your southern consultants need to reevaluate this with better information and choose another better area.

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