Planned 3-storey Iqaluit public housing complex gets first approval

Building will have 18 units in Lower Iqaluit; committee gives its OK, sends proposal to city council

Nunavut Housing Corp. is planning on tearing down Building 303 in Lower Iqaluit and replacing it with an 18-unit building. (Photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A proposal for an 18-unit Nunavut Housing Corp. building got the approval of a city committee Tuesday evening, sending the application to Iqaluit city council to consider next week.

The planning and development committee of the whole voted unanimously to recommend council approve the application for the building, which will provide social housing in Lower Iqaluit.

“We believe the benefits that the increase of 12 housing units on the site and the fact that all of them will be affordable public housing outweigh the drawbacks and challenges,” said city planner Samantha Toffolo during the meeting.

Building 303 will be torn down and this building will go up in its place. Its neighbour, Building 305, will remain, Toffolo said.

As proposed, it will include 12 one-bedroom units and six two-bedroom units. With NHC’s new building, there will be 24 units on the property.

The committee agreed to recommend exempting the building from four zoning rules, including allowing three fewer parking spaces than are normally required, a retaining wall that’s 0.3 metres higher and closer to the end of the lot, and a stacked row building that can be 10.8 metres tall instead of 10.5 metres tall.

The changes are necessary because of the slope of the land, Toffolo said.

In an email, NHC infrastructure director Juanie Pudluk said NHC is looking at construction starting next year. It may take 18 months to finish, depending on delays in the supply chain.

Coun. Romeyn Stevenson said he doesn’t typically support NHC developments that include minimal parking space, because it “lacks foresight.”

“I disagree with their findings that only 25 to 50 per cent of the spaces are used in other buildings. It’s just plain old not true,” he said, adding people use the spaces not only for cars, but also outdoor gear.

But because of the restrictions for this specific building, he voted in favour.

Coun. Simon Nattaq agreed, saying he doesn’t want to stop units being developed because that’s the priority, but adequate parking is still important.

“Due to the shortage of land in Iqaluit and many other communities … it becomes a trade-off between parking stalls versus apartment units,” Pudluk said, adding NHC tries to meet required parking spots when possible.

Mayor Kenny Bell said he supports the project, but wants NHC to look at coming up with others that won’t be allocated to social housing and ownership.

“There needs to be an affordable sector in there, or a mixed-income way of deciding what the rent will be for those units,” he said.

Bell said an option like this could help ease crowded living situations and stop pockets of social housing from being scattered around the city.

Pudluk agreed with Bell, saying the NHC is looking into it.

Stevenson and deputy Mayor Solomon Awa said they want to see a variety of apartment sizes, such as two-, three- and four-bedroom units.

“We’re putting families into units that aren’t big enough for those families and it creates problems,” Stevenson said.

Pudluk said during the meeting the current building proposal is “kind of an experiment” to see how much it costs.

As the NHC gets more comfortable with the design of the building, he said, it will look at changing the unit sizes.


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(16) Comments:

  1. Posted by Physical Caste Society on

    The city’s going to be lovely and have so much character when everybody’s living in 10+ plexes. Isn’t it oh-so-cheeky that those on the plateau will literally be looking down at everybody else.

    • Posted by oh ima on

      so what, it’s going to benefit some Inuit living in overcrowded houses, homeless or semi-homeless. Must be nice to be perfect

      • Posted by Physical Caste Society on

        Oh I’m far from perfect. And I agree that this construction will benefit some Inuit living in overcrowded homes or those that are homeless.
        My comment is more about how the trend seems to be a widening wealth gap that results in lovely, ever-bigger houses for the select few while those that are lower income get stuffed into increasingly smaller and more dense residences.

        • Posted by Dulcinea on

          Can you imagine the outrage if NHC didn’t maximize density but instead built Plateau-style houses?

          Would that be the best use of public funds?

          • Posted by Physical Caste Society on

            I can imagine the outrage which I think is really a symptom of the problem. The housing situation is so dire that we’ve come to expect people to be crammed in. They’re going to tear down what is a very reasonable medium density 3-unit family rowhouse (not commenting on the condition, I’m sure they need renovations), to make way for high density 1 and 2 bedroom units.
            I understand it’s a short-term necessity, but it’s unfortunate that a lack of adequate resources, development, and reliance on social housing is contributing to a longer-term problem.

            • Posted by Someone on

              Actually what you are looking at is a 6 plex which currently has 2 2 bedroom units and 4 bachelor units. The construction of them is horrible to the point that no matter how many times they are worked on the bath tub drains to the kitchen ceiling through the light fixture. They should have been torn down years ago. Do I agree with a 18 plex going in place of them? Not exactly as other large public housing units have proven unsuccessful. Yes they house more people but a lot of problems comes with them as well. As for council wanting a mix of tenants, that’s been done before and didn’t work either.

    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      On average It costs about $700 to $800K to build a single family home in Iqaluit . That is orders of magnitude more expensive than any multi-unit residential development. If you want a single family hone then go to the bank and get a mortgage. Don’t expect someone else to come along and build and pay for it for you.

      • Posted by Physical Caste Society on

        I have my own single family home, thank you.

  2. Posted by Wow on

    Physical Caste Society – so if I understand this comment correctly the author is stating that colonialism is now responsible for the topography of Iqaluit and the methodology for continued cultural suppression. How about the alignment of the planets or the location of stars or the shape of clouds? Perhaps you are forgetting about the cultural attraction or more so, all human attraction, of being close to the sea and therefore those lands closest would be the preferred and primary development areas. Most communities have water or coast lines as starting points; expanding from that prime location with natural occurring terraces of land rising away from that point. I guess we are wrong again. I’m shocked and more so amazed at the limitless connections one can concoct.

    • Posted by By the Sea on

      With today’s environment and the predicted future it makes no sense to construct buildings by coastlines or flood plains. They should be built on higher ground. It’s just a matter of time before the sea levels rise.

    • Posted by Physical Caste Society on

      Umm, no? Talk about limitless connections that one can concoct. No, you did not understand correctly at all. Not sure where you made a connection to to colonialism or cultural suppression?

  3. Posted by Thomas Shelby on

    Great to see this, with all the new buildings going up all around the city, they should be helping with the housing crisis, this building will have 18 units, the new building on the upper plateau will have lots I’m sure as its a huge building and the 31 new units across from Ventures is being being built. Not to mention all the other buildings that have gone up all over the city in the last couple of years, this must be helping.

  4. Posted by John K on

    This is great news.

    Medium density, mixed use developments are what we need. What everyone needs, everywhere.

  5. Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

    Lots of space up on the plateau.
    Build 4 or 5 units like this on the plateau. There is absolutely no reasonable reason to not mix public housing in the same area as what is perceived to be the rich man’s area.


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