Inuit organization set to develop Inuit-owned lands off Iqaluit’s Federal Rd.
QIA project will "reflect Inuit values"
Iqaluit’s Federal Road may not look like much as you head north and leave the city centre, but the Qikiqtani Inuit Association is set to change all that.
The association, which manages all Inuit-owned lands in the Baffin region, happens to own 16.2 undeveloped hectares of property along a one-kilometre stretch of Federal Rd. between the city centre and the North 40 area.
QIA is now working out plans to develop the plot for residential and commercial use, which it will present to the city by March 31, said Bernie MacIsaac, the association’s director of lands and planning.
Qikiqtaaluk Corp., QIA’s associated business entity, will manage the project.
“It’s kind of the last big parcel you’ll find in downtown Iqaluit,” MacIsaac said.
Its location along the road to Iqaluit’s new airport terminal, which the territorial government starts building this year, marks the area as the next avenue of expansion from the city centre.
Federal Road promises to become a high-traffic area once the new terminal opens at the end of 2017.
With that, “as people come into the city, this is going to be the first thing they see,” MacIsaac said. “As it is Inuit-owned land, one of the first instructions we gave to planners was that it’s got to reflect Inuit values, and it’s going to be woven all through that.”
Unlike the typical government-run model of land development in Iqaluit and throughout the territory, QIA’s project is a privately-run initiative, according to project manager Sheldon Nimchuk, of Qikiqtaaluk Corp.
“This is the first example of a private land development in Nunavut,” Nimchuk told Nunatsiaq News, adding that municipalities are normally responsible for residential and commercial development in territorial communities.
Unlike other private developers, who must lease land from the City of Iqaluit, QIA holds fee simple title to the Inuit-owned lands it controls.
At the same time, QIA and Qikiqtaaluk Corp. must take their plan to the city for approval once design and engineering drafts are done.
“There’s a real opportunity for the Inuit organizations to work with the city, to try to find an avenue that is mutually beneficial to address some of the infrastructure challenges in this area,” Nimchuk said.
Although Nimchuk and MacIsaac said it was too early to tell exactly what the new development would look like, MacIsaac allowed that it might “look something like” the cityscape along Federal Rd. in the city centre, south of the Four Corners intersection.
Once completed, “whatever buildings are constructed in this development, the potential overall valuation could be in the $300 to $400 million range of infrastructure,” Nimchuk said. “That would be over time. It has the potential to be a significant contributor to our local economy.”
For now, QIA is conducting a complete survey of the land with contract engineers and urban planners.
The association’s local Community Land and Resources Committee, which oversees Inuit-owned lands in the area of Iqaluit, has provided advice “to ensure Inuit values are woven into the project,” MacIsaac said.
“I’m not going to presuppose what the planners are going to come up with” for the area, MacIsaac added.
“But you’ll probably see housing of some sort, you’re going to see commercial entities, office buildings. It’s essentially an extension of the downtown core.”