MLAs ask for update on Nunavut Housing Corp. capital budget request
Housing Corp. to provide complete list of community public and staff housing at 2013 winter session
(updated 11:40 a.m.)
Nunavut MLAs moved Oct. 30 to ask the Nunavut Housing Corp. for more information about how it plans to spend $13 million to build $5 million worth of Nunavut staff housing and $8 million worth of public housing.
“I move that this committee recommends that the Minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corporation, in the interest of transparency concerning the government’s capital expenditures, table a complete listing of the 2013-14 community allocations of new public and staff housing units on the first sitting day of the winter 2013 sitting of the Legislative Assembly,” said Rankin Inlet MLA Taqak Curley during the Oct. 30 committee of the whole discussions on the Government of Nunavut’s 2013-14 capital budget.
Curley’s motion passed with 16 MLAs voting in favour of the motion — including Peter Taptuna, the minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corp., who had spent much the previous two days defending the housing corporation’s budget request.
MLAs had told him they had trouble with the budget request because it didn’t provide enough information or details on how and where the money would be spent on staff and public housing.
“If any other GN department presented a budget between $5 million and $9 million without clear details of how it will be spent, it would probably be deleted from the budget. Why should we make an exception for the Nunavut Housing Corporation?” said Hudson Bay MLA Alan Rumbolt.
Before Curley’s motion, Taptuna did say Oct. 30 that Cambridge Bay, with 103 vacant GN staff positions, was the “highest priority” for new staff housing and that two new fiveplexes would be earmarked for staff housing in the Kitikmeot hub.
As for public housing, Taptuna said Iqaluit, “ as usual” had the highest needs assessment. There, “we’re looking at two fiveplexes,” Taptuna said.
“The second location we have identified according to its needs assessment is Arviat at two fiveplexes,” he said.
The third community would be Clyde River, which would see one new fiveplex.
These new public housing units would use about $6 million of the $8 million the housing corporation asked for.
But that wasn’t enough information for the MLAs.
During the debate over the housing corporation budget, Taptuna had said, without providing details, that the GN also wants to use “alternative ways” to build or renovate housing units to stretch its money.
Curley wanted to know Oct. 30 why the GN doesn’t simply lease the additional housing it needs.
To that, Alain Barriault, the president of the Nunavut Housing Corp. said “we have to be careful as to what kind of leasing arrangements we do consider because that will the affect the government’s borrowing ability for other priorities.”
After the budget request was approved, Taptuna thanked the MLAs.
“I thank the committee members and my staff here for the support in getting the budget through. I know it’s been a little difficult…we have to remember, when we first got into the government, we were in a difficult situation in dealing with the housing situation right from the get-go,” he said,