“Incompetent” city botched licence renewal, businessman claims

Temper tantrum at city hall doesn’t fix outdated information

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The City of Iqaluit’s latest efforts to crack down on businesses operating in residential areas has provoked angry shouting and accusations of hypocrisy from one local businessman.
Mike Rizzi, who runs Arctic Circle Construction and Development, blasted city councillors and staff during a committee meeting on Tuesday last week. He’s angry, because for the first time since his business incorporated in 1993, his license hasn’t been renewed this year.

That’s because city officials pulled his file when they noticed that, according to their records, Arctic Circle is located on a lot in Apex that’s only zoned for homes, not businesses.

But Rizzi says that’s wrong: his Apex office closed in December, and his business is now located in the North 40, on a lot properly zoned for industrial use.

“I don’t need to humiliate myself, begging for a business license. As a taxpayer, I feel like I’ve waited enough time, with the city’s incompetence,” he said during an interview.

“Give me my business license, and don’t bother me.”

If he sounds touchy, that’s because Rizzi was one of several Tundra Valley residents who demanded last year that the city shut down a spa operating in their neighbourhood. He’s still unhappy with the city’s decision to keep that business open, but he argues he should at least receive similar treatment.

“There’s a precedent,” he said.

He also argues that the city’s out-of-date information is just a small example of “incompetence.”

“Does that mean they raised the taxes by eight per cent, based on information like that?” he asked.

City staff reply that if they’re working with old information, it’s Rizzi’s own fault.

“He hasn’t advised the city in any way,” said Michele Bertol, the city’s director of lands and planning, when asked about the business’s new location. And she says city staff aren’t the only ones uninformed.

“I checked as of yesterday, with Nunavut’s legal registry: This business is still registered (in Apex).”

Rizzi replies that he wrote the city in December to advise them he wouldn’t need trucked water and sewage to the Apex location. He said that should have made it clear to the city the business had moved.

Councilors delayed any decision on Rizzi’s case during the committee meeting last week, after listening to several minutes of his shouting. They also decided that next time they have questions for him, they will contact him by mail, rather than in person.

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