Gjoa Haven fiveplex ‘repurposed’ as public housing
Housing minister says change prompted by pandemic and available federal funds
Two public housing fiveplexes will be built in Gjoa Haven this year, as plans change for one building originally slated to be staff housing.
Margaret Nakashuk, the minister responsible for Nunavut Housing Corp., announced the change in the legislature Wednesday, when Gjoa Haven MLA Tony Akoak asked when the tender for the “much-needed” staff units would be issued.
Akoak also referred to a letter the Gjoa Haven District Education Authority recently wrote to Education Minister David Joanasie about the “urgent need” for more staff housing in the community for teachers.
Nakashuk told Akoak the planned staff housing will be “repurposed” as public housing.
Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, priorities have shifted to address issues like overcrowding in homes, Nakashuk said.
The change also takes advantage of federal money on offer through the Rapid Housing Initiative, aimed at addressing short-term needs and getting vulnerable people housed in affordable units.
The funding can be used for public housing, but not put towards staff units, Nakashuk said, adding that the staff housing fiveplex is delayed for this year, but will go ahead next year.
“The corporation is responding to housing needs in Gjoa Haven by using funding immediately available from the federal government’s Rapid Housing Initiative to build an unplanned and unexpected additional five units,” Nakashuk said.
Gjoa Haven is not the only community to see changes in building plans this year, as construction costs spiked across the country.
Two duplexes planned for Taloyoak have been put on hold because the construction company couldn’t get bonding, or insurance to protect the client, the community’s MLA, Emiliano Emiliano Qirngnuq, found out in the legislature on May 28.
A fiveplex set for Rankin Inlet is also on hold because the lot isn’t ready.
In Pangnirtung, a staff housing fiveplex scheduled for construction is no longer moving ahead, Nakashuk told the legislature on June 1.
Four fourplexes have been cancelled for Iqaluit because of high building costs, with tenders coming in $3.3 million over budget, Nakashuk said in an email.
Construction costs are up 30 per cent over last year, she stated.
In its budget, the federal government announced $25 million to build about 100 new units and address immediate needs in Nunavut.
Nakashuk said the Nunavut Housing Corporation has not yet received the memorandum of understanding for those funds, but once the agreement is finalized, the corporation will decide which communities the units will go to.