Uquutaq Society to develop 24-room affordable housing building in Iqaluit

New building scheduled to be complete in 2024

The Uquutaq Society has won a tender from the City of Iqaluit that will allow it to build a 24-room building aimed at housing young Nunavummiut moving out of the family home, people coming to Iqaluit for school and those coming out of the shelter system that no longer need supports. The society’s executive director, Laurel McCorriston, who is seen here, said her organization is incredibly happy about winning the tender. (Photo by Thomas Rohner)

By David Lochead

Uquutaq Society will be adding to Iqaluit’s affordable housing stock after it won a tender to redevelop a building in the city.

“We’ve all got goosebumps here,” said Uquutaq Society’s executive director, Laurel McCorriston, in an interview with Nunatsiaq News.

“We’re incredibly happy.”

Uquutaq Society, which is a nonprofit organization that operates transitional housing and shelters in Iqaluit, announced on its Facebook page it won the tender from the City of Iqaluit for the redevelopment of the Butler Building site, which is building 803 in Lower Iqaluit.

The lot is currently home to a four-unit building owned by the city, which it uses for storage.

Uquutaq Society is planning to develop a 24-room building on the lot. Each room will each have its own bathroom with a shared living space and kitchen.

Intended residents will be young people moving out of the family home, people new to the city for work and those exiting the shelter system who do not need extra supports.

The society proposed the development in response to the ongoing need for more housing in Iqaluit, McCorriston said.

The tender for the lot and building was set at one dollar, as the winner of the bid would have to pay the cost of remediation, including the cleanup of asbestos and oil contamination.

Constructing the new building will cost around $20 million, McCorriston said.

Uquutaq Society is applying for funding through the federal government’s rapid housing initiative, as well as for grant funding from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

McCorriston said her organization will also apply for funding from the Nunavut Housing Corporation, as the project could be included under its Housing 3000 initiative, which looks to build 3,000 housing units in Nunavut.

“It feels like everything’s really coming together here to change the homelessness situation here in Iqaluit,” McCorriston said.

She said she does not foresee any major challenges with getting the project finished. But she did add that while hiring labourers and dealing with inflation are issues, construction is the easy part compared to running good programs and finding the right staff in the new building.

Demolition and remediation of the current site will begin next year and the construction for the new building is scheduled to be complete in May 2024, McCorriston said.

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(12) Comments:

  1. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Mixing young people and school aged kids with men from the homeless shelter (most of whom have extensive criminal records) in the same residential unit. What could possibly go wrong?

    • Posted by Laurel McCorriston on

      We appreciate your concern, Northern Guy. Your assumptions about shelter users are common. We have several elders living in the shelter here and other men who work regularly – and all they need is a home.

      • Posted by Vinegar and Bleach on

        Some things don’t mix.

      • Posted by Northern Guy on

        Not really an assumption though is it? If you are going to mix vulnerable individuals like students with other populations you need to be transparent as to how many of your shelter clients have criminal records and addictions issues and the potential risk of co-housing them in a single residential complex.

    • Posted by Separate Lots on

      The proposed lot isn’t close to the men’s shelter.
      Awesome initiative, we can use it!

      • Posted by Northern Guy on

        The residential complex will house individuals transiting out of the shelter system in addition to younger individuals and students in a mixed use setting. Extremely problematic from a risk management perspective

  2. Posted by hmm on

    I got a feeling this will turn into a fullblown homeless shelter in no time.

  3. Posted by Nunavut Inuit on

    That comes out to 833k per room. With no living room or kitchen, how is this sustainable in the long term? Where do these people go after? It looks like the Blok P building in Nuuk. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blok_P

    Blok P was designed and developed by non-Inuit and found to be not conductive to Inuit culture. I guess it’s a win for Uquutaq, I believe they were on the homelessness advisory committee so it must have been easy to win the RFP.

    • Posted by Something’s Wrong on

      For $833,000 you should get a large 4 bedroom house with a garage and a storage shed, not a single room and bathroom in shared living space.
      Something’s not adding up.
      The city is supplying the land for $1. The developer is paying for the clean-up, which could be considerable.
      No one else would touch that lot without the city first cleaning it up and it passing inspection. If the clean-up is not done right, the building will be unlivable for anyone, except elders in palliative care. (They will die of other things before environmental-caused cancer gets them.)
      Something about this “deal” seems “wrong”.

      • Posted by Crazy Society on

        This cost is insane and crazy the the City is supporting this. At almost $1 million per room, the society should be embarrassed.

        • Posted by Replacement needed on

          Completly agree. The Executive Director needs to go. This is basically everyone’s tax money as the funding will come from various levels of government.

          I guess this is also what the city council has in mind for their downtown development. All this will do is deter future development in the area.

          • Posted by No community consultation on

            Uquutaq never ever consults or works with the community or neighbors in any of their project plans. City should have required proponents to prove they had community and affected neighbors support the proposed development. CMHC won’t likely require consultation either. Only way the community will get a chance to voice concerns is during the development application which is BS. Uquutaq suck at managing current shelter and the homeless men are bored because of the lack of supports and programming. The ED doesn’t work well with other community groups and stopped most of the partnerships that could have helped the men. The neighbors of the current shelters suffer from all sorts of antisocial behaviours and the fault lies mostly with management for not dealing with problems proactively. Clients have gone missing or died with little care or concern. Our community needs housing solutions and 24 rooming house is too big and too risky for the tenants, neighbors and community.

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