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”

The city has suspended the building of new cabins on municipal land until a land leasing policy is developed. Such a policy would create regulations around the building of cabins that have, until now, not been in place. (File photo)

By Dustin Patar

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.

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(14) Comments:

  1. Posted by lookie lookie on

    ““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,”

    You better get on that. There is a cabin that is in the process of being built at road to nowhere, not far from the road, near the failed graveyard/new park, on that same side of the road. I am annoyed by it, because that is a place for people to be able to enjoy nature and peace and the land, without having to feel like they’ve intruded in someone’s personal backyard.

    • Posted by Concerned Citizen on

      The river is now overcrowded and it now feels like an imposition just to go fishing. very awkward.

      • Posted by lookie lookie on

        haha true. I guess I meant at more quiet times of year. None of my business, I suppose.

  2. Posted by Good for them on

    The development and regulation of cabins needs to be a territory-wide initiative. This is not only an Iqaluit issue. Good for council to bring it to attention and actually take action steps towards figuring out a solution! There are other areas in Nunavut where cabin development is getting out of control and people are getting possessive of “their” area.

    • Posted by Sam on

      This is a Iqaluit issue, all the other communities have been building cabins way before any were ever built in Iqaluit, common sense work in other communities and leadership and plain old asking the neighbours if it’s ok to build here.
      Not very complicated but complicated in Iqaluit.

      • Posted by Inuk1 on

        This isn’t only an Iqaluit problem, this is happening in Cambridge Bay too. People are now claiming roads that have been there since time immemorial just because they chose to plant their cabin on a popular path many years ago. Acting like they are the original and sole owners of the path to the beach. It’s sad how possessive everyone is becoming in Nunavut, “Our Land.”

  3. Posted by Bridge across the river needed on

    Local people that have no boat are limited about where to go.
    Putting a bridge across the river would open access the to this Awsome land.
    That would also be an access way To Emergency rescue in case of crash when the river is not frozen.

  4. Posted by Homeless in Iqaluit on

    How’s this, city council?
    Shack land is only available to people who are homeless. You do know that there are about 1000 of us homeless people in Iqaluit now.
    Permanent lease costs a one time fee of $5.00.
    You can put up a tent and live in it.
    You can build a shack, as you get material, and move from the tent to the shack. Living in the shack will enable to get and keep a job. Since you won’t have to pay rent, you will be able to save money to spend on material for building a cabin.
    You can build a small cabin as you can aford to buy the material, and move from the shack to the cabin. Then you can expand the cabin as you save money to pay for material.
    Sure beats being homeless. For some people it beats living in government housing and living on social assistance.
    City Council, show some leadership and do this.
    Iqaluit does not need cabins for the wealthy. Iqaluit needs cabins for the homeless.
    City Council, I dare you.

    • Posted by Southern White Guy on

      I agree 100% with you Homeless. Lack of affordable access to home ownership is probably THE biggest social issue for Nunavut. Overcrowded homes resulting in no personal safe space contribute to a vicious circle of child abuse, substance abuse, contagious disease spreading etc.

      You are right on point when you talk about moving up the ladder of home ownership from tent, to shack, to cabin, to house. It gives a sense of accomplishment, pride and hope for a better future through hard work and discipline.

      Iqaluit need to find a way to empower the individuals (not corporations, investors and developers) into land access for accommodation development.

      This is a bit off topic but I will say this: I believe the current spike in cabins building by the wealthy has more to do with the inability to travel south and return without isolating with young kids due to this pandemic. It is too late now as the summer is almost over but the wealthy could have travel south and isolate in there homes since they are not overcrowded…

    • Posted by Home Owner on

      I put muy life savings into an over-priced house in Iqaluit. If everyone can build there own house in Iqaluit I won’t be able to sell my house when my GN contract ends. Thats not fair. I was told Id be able to sell it for lots more than I paid for it. Im a taxpayer. City council you have to protect the value of my investment. Thats why I pay taxes for you to protect me.

  5. Posted by Nomad Inuk on

    Isn’t there supposed to be some kind of zoning that could be used to determine if inuit use or crown lands use?
    Plus some of the cabins look like houses where they could be lived in all year round. With no sight of any out houses.
    And what happens if these are on top of precious minerals? With proper inspection of the land and the dimension of size… as some are 2 floor cabins too. Plus unseen fishing or human not being monitored is something to look at. Yk is going through the same problem with cabins on the highway where the hunting grounds are. Isn’t there a monthly fee for cabins here.? When here inuit were thrown out of igloos that did not have rent because they are Inuit built and known of there own land… now non beneficiaries can come n build any place they seem fit to build. Without consulting anyone and think they won’t be bothering sacret ,should be a monthly fee
    This really seems unfair, for homeless to use what ever is suitable to build by the shore and never be considered human with families to protect. Here Nunavut was or supposed to be inuit for the people and by the people…. now where is the sense in that?

  6. Posted by Up the River on

    Some of the cabins being built up the river look like houses, complete with solar panels and satellite dishes. The path to get there is an ATV muddy gouge in the land. People need to stop helping themselves – so privileged.

  7. Posted by Larry on

    Iqaluit, a place where things have to get complicated no matter what it may be. ?

  8. Posted by River Rat on

    Might as well start building multiplex cabin complexes at the golf course fishing area. There’s barely any room to walk between cabins, tents and garbage. Since this area falls within the city boundaries, I hope it will be addressed. Don’t forget Rotary Park and down at the old dump site. Lots of cabins there too.

    The homeless and shack dwellers should not be made to suffer in this. Good luck in this. It’s complicated and will require compassion in any proposal put forward.

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