Iqaluit city council temporarily suspends the building of new cabins on city land
“I don’t believe the intention of this council is to end all cabin development on municipal land, it’s just simply to regulate it going forward”
Iqaluit city councillors unanimously approved a motion that temporarily suspends the building of new cabins on municipal land until the city develops a plan to lease land for cabin use.
Until now, the building of cabins on municipal land was not monitored or managed by the city.
“I don’t believe the intention of this council is to end all cabin development on municipal land,” said Coun. Kyle Sheppard.
“It’s just to create specific policy to regulate where these can be built, just to have some semblance of control and to ensure fairness in the way this development is happening.”
Mayor Kenny Bell agreed.
“This isn’t about stopping municipal use, it’s about making sure that we do it properly,” he said, adding that this motion doesn’t mean people are going to be evicted from their pre-existing cabins.
Bell originally brought the issue forward during last week’s planning and development committee meeting on July 21 because of the lack of oversight.
“Right now people are just building everywhere, myself included,” said Bell last week.
For Bell, regulations would not only protect people’s investments but also prevent cabins from being built in “random places” or “within eyesight of the city.”
Coun. Romeyn Stevenson agreed, adding that regulation would also allow the city to identify no-build zones.
“In the road to nowhere area, where we are someday still intending to have a subdivision, at the moment, somebody could just build a cabin and then it would still be our land, so we might be able to remove them, but it would be ugly,” he said.
Also during that meeting, Deputy Mayor Janet Brewster expressed a concern that imposing a land leasing system would create another barrier for people who are unable to afford a cabin, which would inflate the resale value of existing cabins and further price some out of the market.
“The majority of cabins that are newly built are built by people with privilege, people who can afford it, people who can afford not just to build, but also the transportation that it takes to go out to cabins,” said Brewster
“I’m worried that as time goes on, that cabins will just be exchanged between transient people who will offload it for a high price the same way that they offload the housing that they’re buying here,” she said.
Rather than seeing potential regulations as a barrier, Sheppard responded by saying he saw the process as an opportunity to “get as creative as we want.”
“If we want to limit resale value, if we want to limit the value of that land, if you want to make it free for certain people, we have the opportunity to do that.”
During Tuesday night’s council meeting, Coun. Joanasie Akumalik, who chairs the planning and development committee, expressed some concern over the wording of the motion.
“I would think that along the line people would start asking when ‘until’ is,” he said.
“‘So I’m just wondering if we need to specify a date.”
Stevenson replied, “I absolutely understand where Councillor Akumalik is coming from because there’s so often issues that come up in the summer, we talk about in the summer … and then come November we stop talking about it.”
“[For] this issue, it would be awful if that were the case. I think we should probably leave the wording the way it is and just make this a standing item,” said Stevenson.
All in the room agreed, and the development of a land lease plan for new cabin builders will become a standing item until the work on it is completed.
The next planning and development committee meeting will be on Aug. 18.