Public consultation on changes to Iqaluit shelter ends Tuesday

Petition opposing proposal accuses Uquutaq Society of poor management

The city is seeking opinions from the public on a proposal from the Uquutaq Society to turn building 778, the former men’s shelter, into a low-barrier shelter. (Photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The City of Iqaluit is holding a public consultation for the Uquutaq Society’s proposal to run a revamped shelter in the Lower Base neighbourhood.

The society has asked the city for permission to update its former men’s shelter to a 42-bed, co-ed, low-barrier shelter, meaning it will allow people who are intoxicated inside.

The society’s executive director says this is its only option.

“There is no other place,” said Laurel McCorriston in an interview with Nunatsiaq News.

The society opened a separate 60-bed shelter and transitional home in fall 2020, McCorriston said, but demand remained more than what it could provide.

In a mid-March planning and development committee meeting, McCorriston told councillors that one of its shelters had to turn away people 90 times between November and January because it had reached full capacity.

A petition against the proposal on accuses the society of poor management of its shelters. As of Monday morning, it had 71 signatures.

The petition says there has been a history of theft and people acting violently towards other residents in the neighbourhood because of the shelter.

McCorriston says the society has experienced problems at its shelter at 778, but that was because it was a high-barrier program, which meant intoxicated people weren’t let inside.

She said there will also be more staff and security at the building if the project gets the go-ahead.

“There is this idea that anybody who’s homeless is a criminal, which isn’t true,” McCorriston said. “It’s an effect of colonization. So why are we blaming the people who are the victims of this situation?”

Mayor Kenny Bell told Nunatsiaq News council is waiting to receive public feedback before it forms an opinion on the proposal.

Nunatsiaq News reached out to Iqaluit-Sinaa MLA Elisapee Sheutiapik, who is also the minister responsible for homelessness, several times, and did not receive a reply.

The public consultation ends on Tuesday.

Residents can submit feedback by emailing Marc Rivet, the city’s development officer, at or call community communication liaison Ainiak Korgak at (867) 979-5603.

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(17) Comments:

  1. Posted by Hoping for the best on

    Hope this works out for them. The NIMBY folks (Not In My Back Yard) folks will come out hard against this no matter how the society pitches it.

    • Posted by Lower base on

      Of course they don’t, no one would. I am a private home owner that lives in close proximity to this proposed shelter. When it was open previously I routinely had threats of violence uttered at me and beer cans thrown at me. The director cries a good sob story but has failed to address the concerns both, past and current about how they deal with violence.
      The people who are so adamantly for this need to get off their high horse and live in this area to see how bad it actually is. I will have no problems suing the society and the municipality for damages done as well as loss of property value.

    • Posted by Qatchinii? on

      All right man! I got a new place to qatchinii ! I love this new council letting me offer my fine business products to the outstanding citizens of Iqaluit.
      This qallunat was always so welcoming to me in the past, no problems with me smoking up inside, and now I can bring my smirnoff from across the street. Bonus!

  2. Posted by Not drunk on

    Putting a high risk drunk shelter in the middle of a residential neighbourhood is not something that should be forced on families without a full public engagement and a plan to mitigate their concerns. Simply trying to label concerned residents who will be impacted by this is unfair and irresponsible. Lying that “there are no other options” is just manipulative malarkey. The wet shelter can stay where it is, be installed in Uquutaq’s new 16,000 foot facility or even be put in the Mariner’s lodge available right next door.
    When people are waking up to dead bodies in their lots among other mayhem, Uquutaq’s management need to do better than sanctimonious manipulation and gaslighting. Both Uquutaq’s clients and neighbours deserve better.

  3. Posted by No thanks on

    Another fine example of racial segregation. I invite all the fine people of the Plateau to come live in lower base before you so adamantly ridicule those who do and that oppose the shelter.
    This area is for mixed usage and is supposed to allot for families, businesses and the like. The Uquutaq society did nothing to clients from consuming alcohol and doing drugs before with 3 staff, what makes them think they will now?
    It is incredibly poor planning on the municipality to push out families when there are no other options to buy or rent.

  4. Posted by Sellers market on

    “Local journalism initiative”. If there was a “local” journalist they would have known that the petition online was considered invalid due to languagw accessibility. As a result neighbours in lower base have gotten together and started a paper peition that is available bilingually for all users to prevent misinformation. They have been going door to door in lower base addressing the concerns face to face and collecting signatures, and they have about 100 concerned citizens so far.

  5. Posted by Home on

    “There is this idea that anybody who’s homeless is a criminal, which isn’t true,” McCorriston said. “It’s an effect of colonization. So why are we blaming the people who are the victims of this situation?”

    No one is saying anyone who is homeless is a criminal. No one complains about being near either of the two womens’ shelters, because they are managed differently. People get mad about how those shelters are run, but I live near one of them and I’ve never had any problem with safety or anything like that. I just love those ladies! So this isn’t really about people criminalizing the homeless. Nice try though.

    I’m super glad that the men’s and low barrier shelters exist, because more people would die,, but I wouldn’t want to live near either of them. Just ask the handful of people living beside the low barrier/damp shelter how it has been. Garbage, yelling, urination, all kinds of fun. The city should really make space in areas that are away from homes. Why is everything crammed into tiny nrighborhoods, as if there isn’t a zillion miles of land out there?

    • Posted by Yes some are saying that on

      Check the online petition comments, plenty of people are saying homeless=criminal.
      Check rant and rave. You’ll see people saying it there, one being the wife of a city council candidate.
      The people against the shelter are doing themselves no favours by dehumanizing homeless people.

  6. Posted by Anonymous on

    Ummm. I’m pretty sure the “wet shelter” or whatever it is called is right beside residential homes now also. Im not sure that is a viable arguement. If anyone has a better idea (aside from let’s let people freeze and die outside), now is the time to bring it forward to council!!

  7. Posted by Please Do This The Right Way, Not The Fast Way on

    It is easy to pull on the heartstrings of decision makers in regards to this much needed project. However, taking shortcuts to establish a wet shelter in the easiest way possible is only further exploiting Iqaluit’s most vulnerable.

    I hope the City considers the increased risk of violence, exploitation, and health hazards that come with housing intoxicated individuals of both genders in such an inadequate space. Just look to BCC to see a strong and sad example of how unsuitable infrastructure supports a vicious cycle of harm.

  8. Posted by Legion on

    When I lived in that neighbourhood, the Legion was the source of drunks passing through the area. We can’t fix the drunkenness until we fix our housing problems and education system.

    Snooty people who look down their noses at others are the ones who we need a petition against.

    • Posted by Snooty on

      So you moved from lower base before the beer and wine store opened? When do you depart back “home”?
      Last I checked the legion doesn’t let you buy a case of beer, but good try blaming the legion for the drunks. Anyone who walks in lower base or heck even drives there on their 4 corner escape route will see lots of public drinking. People routinely walk from the lineup to their home with cases of beer and have a sip or two on their stroll. Any observer can see that.
      Before they shut down 778 they just walked right in the front door of it with their cases. If staff caught them they would just go drink it on the neighbours steps, or in their crawlspaces. Its a multi governmental problem that is not being addressed. To rush and force it on residences is absolutely hypocrisy in its finest. Why just one building? Why not open two or three wet shelters? Like people from Apex will find 778 a convenient walk, or end of plateau residents etc. Turn the old starbucks location into a damp shelter too, its been unoccupied for years.
      Or how about the old satellite building that was turned over to the city? There are other options but the real “snooty” people don’t want it in their area either. Go figure

  9. Posted by Northern Guy on

    According to Ms. Corriston

  10. Posted by Moved on to better things on

    The landlord of this building needs to be questioned, seriously. As a former employee of the shelter when it was at 778 the building was and still is in deplorable condition. Rotting floors and foundations, mould, and building code violations. This building is in no better shape then the old Navigator restaurant was yet this one is older and still hasn’t been torn down.
    I had to quit working there as the board and directors, and management did not take any of our concerns seriously. We voiced safety concerns multiple times over the condition of building 778, and of our high workload. There were many nights in the summer and fall of 2020 where I was the only staff working with 60 men. Poor management and an overpriced overcrowded delapitated building is a recipe for disaster. God forbid a fire start inside, I still drive by and see they have not shovelled the emergency exit again, another ongoing issue since 2019 and earlier. If the public truly knew what was going on there would be public outcry over the inhumane treatment of staff and patrons of the sheltet

    • Posted by Inside those walls on

      Take everything you just said and pretend it was about BCC, and it would fit like a glove.

  11. Posted by Empty buildings on

    No other options? There are several unoccupied buildings currently, last year the city was given a large building that they have put out requests for proposals onna few times. The satellite farm near the AWG.
    Its large, has a really big lot for expansion, and cost nothing.
    Or how about the QIA donate some space to help out the misfortunate? The old Starbucks location has been unoccupied for theee years and has about the same floor space as 778, not to mention it is actually structurally sound. Where are all the inuit orgs when the public really needs their support?
    The Uquutaq society should be working WITH everyone not starting fights on social media.

  12. Posted by North guy on

    There you go former ministers who welcomed this beer and wine store,you said you wanted to have bootlegging dealt with,it worse now even people who have homes have more problems unless you repent you will die with blood on your hands.


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