New ground for museum, new opportunity for HTA

Plans for HTA building move ahead



A second survey of the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum’s property has revealed more room for land negotiations between museum board directors and the Amarok Hunters and Trappers Association.

Quliruaq Inc., the business arm of the HTA, has been in talks with the museum’s board of directors about the procurement of a portion of the museum’s land for a proposed new HTA headquarters.

Quliruaq, with the aid of Full Circle Architecture, is proposing to build a two-storey building including offices, a shared boardroom and a small retail outlet serving the hunting community.

But to do so, Quliruaq must negotiate a deal with the museum’s board of directors to purchase from them a strip of land approximately 18 feet wide and 100 feet long on which to construct a parking lot access road.

Because of the proposed size of the new building and number of employees, eight parking spots must be made available. A current city bylaw restricts parking that forces vehicles to back out into the street.

The blueprints, therefore, have planned for parking along the side of the building to allow vehicles to back out onto the access road between the new building and the museum.

Initially, museum executives expressed their reservations about the proposal due to the limitations it could place on future expansion possibilities. But a recent survey of the land resulted in an additional 20 or more feet of ground from the property line.

When Full Circle architect Keith Irving originally examined the lots, he used some old drawings from 1990 when the museum underwent an addition. The drawings were based on original drawings of when the museum was first built in the mid-1980s.

“The location of the building on those drawings was incorrect, ” Irving said.

“An aerial photo showed the building in a different spot than the drawings so I actually went out there with a tape and did some measurements myself.”

The museum board was encouraged by Irving’s new findings.

“The board said ‘We’re not going to do this,’ and then the architect for the HTA discovered our property was in fact bigger than we initially thought it was,” said John Vander Velde, chair of the museum board of directors.

A new bylaw states buildings in that zone can be a maximum of 500 square feet, while the museum is currently about 435 square feet.

“We have more than enough to expand to our maximum given the current bylaw. Once that was discovered, the board was able to negotiate with the HTA,” Vander Velde added.

An expansion would result in an approximately 65 additional square metres for the museum. Parking is not currently an issue for the museum, although in the event that there is an expansion it could become an issue.

But it’s not a “done deal” yet, as many things will have to be resolved before the board can make an informed decision, Vander Velde assured. Legal surveys of each property still have to be done and each side still has to talk to lawyers about the specifics of such a transfer of land.

Although the board wants to arrive at a decision expediently, the time frame depends solely on how quickly they receive this information from Quliruaq and the lawyers, Vander Velde added.

Quliruaq is offering $6,818 based on figures calculated by Full Circle. Vander Velde said he is unwilling to speculate on whether the amount being offered is reasonable until he receives all the appropriate information.

The HTA’s office has been situated at the Four Corners across from the Kamotik Restaurant since 1972. The site was chosen as a temporary measure until a more suitable space was found, according to David Alexander, the HTA’s chair.

Alexander wrote a letter to museum members May 5 campaigning for support of the HTA’s quest to realize what he called a “30-year-old dream.”

From the early 1980s to the early 1990s, the HTA gathering place also housed a country food and outfitting supply store. But with little room for growth, the store was eventually shut down. The HTA hopes to resurrect its retail service with the construction of a new building.

“We are now closer than ever before to making our dream of a new home a reality,” Alexander wrote.

At its regular meeting May 27, Iqaluit city council helped bring that dream a little closer by passing a motion to reduce the number of required parking spaces, which was originally 13, to eight. And, to reduce the parking aisle width from eight metres to six metres.

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