MLAs approve hook-up help for Lower Base residents
IQALUIT – MLAs have pumped $300,000 into water and sewage hook-up for homeowners in Iqaluit’s Lower Base neighborhood.
Last week the assembly approved the one-time handout to help about 60 homeowners who face hefty bills of as much as $25,000 to hook up to mandatory piped service in the area.
“We’re happy to hear the subsidy was approved,” said John Thomas, a Lower Base resident who lobbied the territorial government for help.
Homeowners are still waiting to find out how the lump sum will be administered, but Thomas said that a letter of thanks has already been sent to Nunavut’s department of community government.
The approved government money is just one piece in solving a months-old dispute between Lower Base residents and the municipality of Iqaluit.
In an effort to cut water and sewage delivery costs after a new hotel was built in the area, the municipality installed utilidor service in the neighborhood last summer. Municipal officials say piped service costs the Town one quarter the price of trucked service.
Homeowners were told they had three years to hook up before trucked service would be cut off.
But Lower Base residents say the municipality is unfairly asking them to pay for pipes from the main all the way to their homes. They argue municipalities typically pay to install lateral pipes from the main all the way to each lot’s property line.
“There is absolutely no way on God’s green earth that we are going to pay for that. We’ve made it very clear,” Thomas said.
Under the former GNWT, homeowners could also tap into a program that subsidized the cost of pipe from their property line to the home.
Homeowners are now negotiating with the municipality for a final resolution on how costs will be split.
Thomas said he’d like the $300,000 to be provided to homeowners to help pay hookup costs after the Town covers the cost to the property line.
Community Government deputy minister Mike Ferris said he expects the department to come up with a formula within the next two weeks. The department will discuss the issue with an engineer and the Town.
“Unless we have a good, organized plan of approach, the $300,000 isn’t going to go a long way,” Ferris said.
The department may consider footing the bill for pipe from the main to homeowners’ property lines, Ferris said, and then picking up a fraction of the cost from the property line to the home.
But to do that and make sure the $300,000 goes as far as possible, the department would need a number of homeowners to hook up at once and then hire a contractor.
“Done on a one-on-one basis, it won’t go too far,” Ferris said.
Ferris said the department would also review the thinking behind the GNWT subsidy that subsidized pipe installations from the property line to the home.