Nunavut needs to stretch its dollars to build 907 staff units
“There are 25 communities and the need is just so huge"
There’s no way that the Government of Nunavut can meet a demand for 907 new staff units it needs, so, with the Nunavut Housing Corp., the GN plans to look at “alternative ways” to house its employees.
Speaking Oct. 29 in the Nunavut legislature’s committee of the whole, Peter Taptuna, the minister responsible for housing, called the challenge of stretching the available money — only about $5 million for 2013-14 — “a huge task.”
“At this time, we’re taking a good look with Human Resources to try and come up with the best value for that small budget,” Taptuna said. “There are 25 communities and the need is just so huge… we’ll need a huge budget, which we don’t have.”
The best bang for the GN’s buck may come from acquiring foreclosed properties or renovating older units, “to maximize the amount that we’re allocated.”
But MLAs had some criticism to offer about empty staff units in some communities, such as six vacant units in Pond Inlet, a situation raised by Tununiq MLA Joe Enook.
“These vacant units do tie in with a position,” Taptuna said. “And there is a requirement to keep the staff units available for some of these positions that are going into some of these communities.”
Among the other barriers facing new housing construction: the lack of developed building lots and the high cost of buying developed lots now sold with equity leases. That’s a cost that Nunavut Housing Corp. president Alain Barriault said he’s trying to bring down with the Nunavut Association of Municipalities.
The GN plans to finish about 14 staff units with its $5 million — in addition to the 22 public housing units that the housing corporation plans to build at a cost of $8 million.
Taptuna urged the MLAs to approve his capital request without more information about where the cost of the housing would go and where it would be built.
But Tagak Curley, MLA for Rankin Inlet North, said he wanted more information, referring to past financial losses incurred by the Nunavut Housing Corp., which he called a “fiasco.”
“Now, you’re telling us to ‘just trust me. We will get it done properly.’ And we’re asking that the government do its part in accounting and properly accountable with the public funds by at least detailing the cost estimates,” Curley said.
Discussion about the housing corporations 2013-14 capital budget request was set to continue Oct. 30 in the committee of the whole.