Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit September 11, 2017 - 8:00 am

Hotel room shortage in Nunavut’s capital adds strain to busy fall season

"We do have people calling now to try and register for the trade show and there are no hotels”

STEVE DUCHARME
When the former Hotel Arctic was transformed into a student residence for Nunavut Arctic College this month, Iqaluit lost 76 hotel rooms, creating big problems for people visiting the community for political and business events. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)
When the former Hotel Arctic was transformed into a student residence for Nunavut Arctic College this month, Iqaluit lost 76 hotel rooms, creating big problems for people visiting the community for political and business events. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)

As Iqaluit moves into another busy season of conferences, meetings and the final sitting of the current legislature, fall visitors might face a rude awakening when they make travel plans: there’s nowhere to sleep.

Spokespeople from two of Nunavut’s largest events—the Nunavut Trade Show and the Nunavut Mining Symposium—told Nunatsiaq News that losing the city’s 76-room Hotel Arctic this summer has forced both events to help participants scramble for accommodations.

While both events directly book several rooms for delegates and VIPs, most regular participants will have to find their own places to stay when they come to town.

“It certainly is a problem for us. We do have people calling now to try and register for the trade show and there are no hotels,” said Chris West, the executive director of the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the Nunavut Trade Show each year in September.

West said the BRCC is fielding calls from concerned participants on a daily basis ahead of Sept. 19, when the trade show is scheduled to get underway.

Many have been given contact information for local bed and breakfasts, but those too are quickly filling up.

“We certainly need another facility,” West said.

Qikiqtaaluk Properties bought the Hotel Arctic this past summer and is leasing the building to Nunavut Arctic College.

Jen Hayward, the co-organizer for the Nunavut Mining Symposium, said the loss of the Hotel Arctic will have “a huge impact.”

“It is a bigger concern from the mining symposium’s perspective that, all of a sudden, we have 76 less rooms that we can potentially house delegates at,” she said.

The Nunavut Mining Symposium isn’t scheduled until April 2018, but organizers have already begun planning for a shortage of hotel rooms.

“It obviously will have an impact on the number of participants that can ultimately come.”

According to conference figures, these two events bring in about $1.3 million in economic activity—and they claim that’s a conservative estimate.

Two new Iqaluit hotels are in the planning stages: one near the Qikiqtani General Hospital and another on Inuit-owned lands on Federal Road, but no completion dates have been announced yet.

Room shortage also at new college residence

The Hotel Arctic was sold for $14.9 million at the end of July to Qikiqtaaluk Properties Inc., a subsidiary of the Qikiqtaaluk Corp., which is the business arm of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association.

The building is currently being renovated into a student residence and campus for Nunavut Arctic College, but a short construction window and an ongoing legal squabble with the building’s former restaurant has caused a shortage of rooms for students.

The college’s manager of policy and planning, Richard Paton, said Sept. 7 that students have had to double up in five rooms meant for single occupancy.

Three families have also been placed into three single-occupancy rooms, after they declined an offer from the college to move temporarily to hotel rooms.

“It hasn’t been an uncommon practice of the college to, when needed, have students double up,” he said.

Paton said he expects all of these issues to be resolved by Sept. 11 at the latest, when Nunavut Arctic College officially receives the building from Qikiqtaaluk Properties.

Light construction will continue at the new residence over the coming weeks, but security systems have already been installed ahead of the students’ arrival, Paton said.

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(5) Comments:

#1. Posted by Monday? on September 11, 2017

Judging by the typos, and errors in this someone needs a second cup of coffee… lol.

Hopefully they start the construction next year for the new hotels. With weather delays and cancellations having people with no where to sleep is a huge problem. The boarding home is most of the time at capacity or over, wonder if the government plans to add more rooms there too.

#2. Posted by Mistake on September 11, 2017

Closing down the Hotel Arctic (aka Nova) was a HUGE mistake for Iqaluit, especially closing it before the two new hotels are even close to being ready. A lot of people didnt think it would be a big deal, and wasn’t going to affect Iqaluit much, but now you see that it is. I feel REALLY sorry for all the folks who are stranded in Iqaluit with no place to sleep due to flight cancellations. And it’s only going to get worse now that winter approaches.

#3. Posted by Airbnb on September 11, 2017

It’s time to start using airbnb people! Download the app!

#4. Posted by Concern Nunavut Resident on September 11, 2017

Never mind Trade Shows, how about us Nunavut residents whom have medical travel, or medical emergency travel and can’t get a place to stay because our family does not qualify to stay at a boarding home, and we do not have relatives or friends to stay with in the capital city.
I had to cancel a very important appointment for my 6 month old infant at the Iqaluit Hospital(we live in one of the remote communities) There are no B&B availability or hotels, just nothing at what point do we call this lack of accommodation a health crisis?

#5. Posted by Evelyn Thordarson on September 11, 2017

Someone dropped the ball here as many people get upset when meetings are held in the South and now with a severe drop in accommodation space in Iqaluit more meetings will now take place in the South.Perhaps Iqaluit needs someone that can make long range forecasts on the amounts of people coming into Iqaluit for meetings, college, patients from other communities etc.Because as it stands right now no one is thinking about the future. Wake up people this city is only 18 years old if you want to be at the same table as the big guys then start planning for your future because this is just a taste as to what is about to happen in the future. You want Iqaluit to be taken seriously act like it.

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