Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit September 09, 2011 - 1:11 pm

Iqaluit steps up pitch for new public buildings

New pool, recreation centre, fire hall designs unveiled

CHRIS WINDEYER
A computer rendering shows what the inside of Iqaluit's prposed new aquatics centre could look like. The city hopes to start construction on the new pool by 2013. (IMAGE COURTESY OF CITY OF IQALUIT)
A computer rendering shows what the inside of Iqaluit's prposed new aquatics centre could look like. The city hopes to start construction on the new pool by 2013. (IMAGE COURTESY OF CITY OF IQALUIT)
An artist's rendering shows what the inside of Iqaluit's proposed aquatics centre could look like. (FILE PHOTO)
An artist's rendering shows what the inside of Iqaluit's proposed aquatics centre could look like. (FILE PHOTO)

City officials are stepping up their sales pitch for the Piqutivut Building Our Capital project, with more public meetings and images of what Iqaluit’s new public buildings might look like.

Iqaluit is looking to replace the aging Astro Hill swimming pool by 2013 with a new downtown facility that’s eight times the size of the current pool.

Plans also call for a new home for the city’s fire and ambulance services, a new city hall, an indoor recreation centre, and a second rink at the Arctic Winter Games Arena.

Amy Elgersma, Iqaluit’s director of recreation, gave a presentation on the project at the Frobisher Inn Sept. 8.

She said the completed conceptual designs are the result of months of brainstorming and public consultation.

“We really want to let as many people know about the project as we can, hear from them and also show them the work that we’ve done so far,” she said.

Piqutivut would roll out in stages. The pool comes first because the current lease for the Astro Hill facility expires in March 2013. The current pool is also too small for the city’s needs.

Astro Hill owner Nunastar is redeveloping the part of the complex that houses the pool and has given the city several extensions to the lease over the past few years.

The city hall and emergency services centre have to be built before the recreation centre, which is planned for the current site of the aging Arnaitok Complex, which is the current home to an arena, city hall and emergency services.

The recreation centre would include a walking track and fieldhouse, as well as a gymnasium and multipurpose rooms.

All of the proposed buildings take a sharp turn away from the brutal, pre-fabricated architecture that’s so common in Iqaluit’s older institutional buildings, including the Arnaitok Complex.

Rod Kirkwood, an architect with FSC Architects and Engineers, said the buildings are designed with lots of large windows, open spaces and where possible, views of the bay or the land.

That’s especially important for the new city hall, because the old one is far too small and actually fails to meet some of the building code.

It’s also poorly ventilated, which means fumes from idling fire trucks actually waft up into city offices.

“It is a proven fact that is you give people a humane work environment… people will just be happier and do their jobs better,” Kirkwood said.

He said they’re also designed with sustainability in mind, with all five proposed buildings meeting some kind of LEED standard, a certification system for environmentally friendly buildings.

They buildings are also designed for livability, with most located in or near the downtown core.

“They needed to be within walking distance of the critical mass of the population,” Kirkwood said.

The city is aiming to provide as many as 180 parking spots for the downtown recreation facilities, through a combination of existing spaces, acquired lots and, the city hopes, a deal to use the Nunavut Court of Justice’s parking lot after business hours, when use of the pool and recreation centre is expected to be heaviest.

But those parking figures struck one man who attended the presentation as optimistic.

“Everybody studies parking in this town but it’s always underdone,” he said.

Also remaining is the question of how much the whole project will cost.

City staffers won’t tip their hand yet, but Elgersma said a detailed business plan will be released in about a month, after it gets council approval.

She said it will include possible funding scenarios, including how much could come from the territorial and federal governments, as well as the private sector. The city also hasn’t ruled out borrowing.

That option would require approval by ratepayers, who defeated proposals to borrow money for a new pool and city hall in the 2008 municipal elections.

A funding drive spearheaded by the recreation department has already raised around $60,000 for the new aquatics centre, Elgersma said.

John Hussey, Iqaluit’s senior administrative officer, said the city also has about $2 million stashed in various capital reserves.

He said the expiry this year of the city’s lease on the curling rink frees up $114,000 per year, and the end of the Astro Hill pool lease would give the city another $240,000 annually.

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