Iqaluit council passes motion to create youth wellness hub

City will enter talks to buy racquet club building

The City of Iqaluit’s administration will enter into talks to buy the Frobisher Racquet Club with the purpose of turning it into a youth wellness hub. (File photo)

By David Lochead

The City of Iqaluit intends to create a youth wellness hub after council unanimously approved a motion on the matter on Tuesday night.

“I think the need has been apparent for a long time,” Coun. Romeyn Stevenson, who used to be Inuksuk High School’s vice-principal, told Nunatsiaq News about the project.

Stevenson said it’s too early to say for certain what will be offered in the wellness hub, but he pictured counselling services and emergency care as part of the project.

According to the motion, the city will enter into talks to buy the Frobisher Racquet Club with the intent to use the building for a youth wellness hub.

The city was approached with an opportunity to buy the racquet club, which is connected to the city-owned curling rink, Mayor Kenny Bell said during this week’s council meeting.

He added the potential of buying the club had been discussed previously by council in an in-camera session.

Last November, Iqaluit youth marched from the Four Corners to the Nunavut legislature, where they filled the lobby to demand more resources for mental health and suicide prevention.

The suicide rate for Inuit was nine times higher than the non-Indigenous population in Canada between 2011 to 2016, according to Statistics Canada. Suicide was one of the leading causes of death among Inuit youth and young adults.

While the motion makes clear the city’s intention to buy the building, the city also needs to find money to make the purchase, create programming and services, find partners to work with and do inspections of the building before buying it.

“That work is going to be significant,” said Stevenson.

Stevenson said he does not have an estimate for how much money the city needs to buy the building, but the city will see what support the Government of Nunavut and federal government can provide.

He added he is confident the city will be successful in this project, pointing to the city’s ability to find space and funding for a new men’s shelter as an example of the municipal government’s capability.

Stevenson said he hopes the youth wellness hub will be running by the end of the year, adding that no major changes would be added to the current building.

“When people get together and work it can happen quickly,” he said.

Bell did not respond to an interview request.

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(13) Comments:

  1. Posted by Where’s the pot of gold! on

    This initiative should be coming from Inuit orgs or other agencies, not rate payers. The city needs to put their own house in order and get the infrastructure in proper working order. Come on Inuit orgs, it’s time to step up and put your money where your mouth is!! It’s time to start focusing on the important things, the things that count which are the children and youth, the future!!

    • Posted by Colin on

      Sport Nunavut, what are they doing? It’s part of the GN, they should be doing more for our youth, sport Nunavut supposed to work with hamlets and their recreation department.
      It used to work great under the NWT days, many different activities fall under recreation not just sports.
      Where are we today with this? Different funding used to be available under sport north now sport Nunavut.
      With so much suicide in our youth GN needs to step up and get this started again.

  2. Posted by Priorities on

    There is an old saying: Put First things First. I am supportive of a space for youth in the City, however this initiative should be taken place after basic services are being met by the City and all current vaccines are filled. Buildings are just that buildings. Its the staff run programming that happens inside that give these facilities community value. The City needs to staff up and offer programming first in its existing facilities before it can demonstrate it can actually execute on these suggested programs.

    It also needs to have clean water! When children and youth do not have access to clean safe drinking water, we put them at much greater risk, and stress. This youth hub will not solve that stress. Clean drinking water is a basic human right. I would much rather see the City borrow money to fix the water treatment plant to ensure all youth have clean drinking than buy a building to offer new services it has no staff capacity to take on currently. So Iqaluit City Council put First Things First and fix the water, get qualified staff, then reach for new opportunities. Need to get the basics down first!

  3. Posted by Mayor-like on

    Thanks Romyn for being so mayor-like. We desperately need adults on council.

  4. Posted by still here on

    Please please stop thinking of ways to spend money, and get your act together city! Fix the most immediate problems first(water quality and infrastructure problems including utilidor repairs that have been needed for the last thirty years) How much is that bldg. gonna cost? for a used bldg. that will need to be retrofitted and upgraded to meet current standards, I can see this being over the 50 million dollar range after all incurred, wow some of us in this town have water coming up our utilidor lines that the city has accepted as there responsibility but do not repair , c’mon and look after the few tax payers you have , do not cause the small percentage of tax payers to have to pay more in taxes.

  5. Posted by angry resident on

    Yes – good distraction to keep us from asking what’s going on with our water?

  6. Posted by Disappointed on

    It’s disappointing that the city plans to get rid of one of Iqaluit’s few recreation facilities… to create a new recreation facility. We already have such limited options for wellness and rec in this city — surely this doesn’t have to be a zero-sum proposition? There must be other options available for the city to consider.

  7. Posted by MARS on

    How come nobody is talking about existing rec facilities unable to offer full services due to the City’s vaccine requirement? How many staff were let go? Was there no plan in place to replace these staff prior to announcing the vaccine mandate at City facilities?

    The vaccine doesn’t stop transmission of covid so what is the point of denying service and employment to people who are unvaccinated?

    The City should narrow their focus. Start with H2O.

  8. Posted by What?!? on

    What about the iqaluit elite? Where will they go? All the other establishments has too many locals that have access to those places

    • Posted by FRC member on

      I was wondering how long it would take someone to comment on the “elite” members of the Racquet Club.
      I’m not sure who you think are members but I’m pretty sure non of them consider themselves elites (oh and by the way I’d like to know your definition of a what a local is).
      The club has been a family friendly place to work out, play squash and socialize for over 25 years. Quite a few kids grew up running around that place and are now upstanding members of this community.
      You can call me an elitist if you like but if the Club is to close it will be very sorely missed by many people in Iqaluit.

      • Posted by Lol on

        I think what that guy is trying to say is,….if you charge a $1000 initiation fee and a $140 a month fee we all know who the club was geared towards, it was certainly not the “locals” if you are able to read between the quotations.

        • Posted by Adds Up on

          $140 a month is just 6 packs of smokes. Just saying.

  9. Posted by iqaluit on

    well there was a motion and it was passed when one of councillors acted to make curling rink accessible to all.If we put youth and awareness toegther it is a win win situation.


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