Developer blasts council — again
Jomanic-Can president says developers are treated like criminals in Iqaluit
A local developer, enraged by the reaction to his request for a building permit, is accusing Iqaluit city council of opposing any new development in Iqaluit.
George D’Aoust, president of Jomanic-Can Inc., said he’s frustrated that he and other developers have to jump through hoops before they can construct buildings and homes around town.
D’Aoust’s company requested a building permit to put up a three-storey complex in the west end of the city, where Baffin Island Canners Ltd. now sits. Baffin Canners is moving, so Jomanic-Can proposed tearing down that building and putting up a building with offices on the first floor and apartment units on the two top floors.
After receiving the design plans, the city’s development officer, John Uliana, said some key pieces of information were missing, such as what the landscaping would look like and if there will be a loading area for the office building.
Uliana also suggested the fire marshall inspect the building and that D’Aoust reconsider his plan to put galvanized metal on the roof.
But those questions angered D’Aoust.
According to Chrystal Fuller, the city’s director of lands, D’Aoust walked into her office on Aug. 22, cursed and criticized city councillors for not accepting his building permit.
He also wrote an angry letter directed to Fuller and city council.
In his letter, D’Aoust said there is no reason for Ulinia’s response. “Instead of working with us, he killed the project. He looked for problems that do not exist,” D’Aoust wrote.
“As far as development and construction goes, the city is going nowhere. It is all wrapped up in tape.”
Still not satisfied, D’Aoust appeared before city council this week to plead his case.
“We can’t have development unless there’s cooperation. And cooperation we don’t have, that’s for sure,” he said.
Fuller, the mayor and several councillors tried to explain to D’Aoust that his permit wasn’t rejected. It was simply sent back with a request for more information. His permit hasn’t gone before the planning committee or council, so a decision about whether to approve or deny his request has not even been made.
But D’Aoust remained convinced his permit had been rejected.
He also said it would take too much time for his company to get all the information the development office is requesting. And time is something he doesn’t have because he wants to order the building materials on the next sealift boat.
Councillor Keith Irving, who also heads up the planning committee that makes decisions on building permits, jumped into the debate.
“I’m extremely concerned about the abuse our staff is taking on behalf of the council,” Irving said, referring to D’Aoust’s visit to the lands office.
Irving said councillors were elected on the promise they’d work hard on long-term planning for the city and get away from the haphazard way the city has been developing. He said that’s what residents have said they want.
“They want our laws followed. They want development controlled,” Irving said.
He said many developers, including D’Aoust, seem to be having difficulty getting used to this new approach to city planning.
D’Aoust didn’t take councillor Irving’s words lightly.
“I’ve been here for 22 years. This is my town too,” he said. “I get no respect.”
Pointing at Irving, D’Aoust said he never had trouble getting permits to build until Irving came on council two years ago.
“A developer is not a criminal. A developer is just someone who likes to build,” he said.
During a special council meeting last week, D’Aoust presented a letter to council, saying they had in effect rejected a proposed housing development in the Road to Nowhere subdivision by asking neighbours if they had any objections.
D’Aoust told council this week that he and his company would gladly take their money elsewhere, rather than invest in Iqaluit.