Iqaluit residents question QC about proposed new housing, new hotel
Development will expand residential and hotel capacity in downtown Iqaluit
Housing and hotel capacity dominated questions from Iqaluit residents Feb. 19, when Qikiqtaaluk Corp. gave the public a first look at its plans for developing 16.2 hectares of Inuit-owned lands along Federal Rd.
Unlike other developments in Nunavut, this project is privately financed, on private fee simple lands owned collectively by the Inuit and managed by the Qikiqtani Inuit Association.
Urban planner Michelle Drylie of the firm Planning Alliance, and project planner Sheldon Nimchuk of Qikiqtaaluk Corp. described the project to a small group of residents at the public consultation.
The new neighbourhood will centre around two large buildings. One is a hotel and conference centre. The other is the long-waited and Inuit heritage museum required by the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and the other is the media arts centre that the Inuit Broadcasting Corp. has been fundraising for.
A mix of residential and office space will take up the southern-most section of the parcel.
It’s in keeping with QIA’s mandate to create, “a situation where the community can represent Inuit,” Nimchuk said.
This will be reflected in the neighbourhood’s two central buildings, and possibly in the designs of other housing and office buildings, he said.
“If not in the architectural form, certainly within the services of those buildings, and the landscaping we do in the development,” he said.
Planners could not say exactly how large the proposed hotel and conference centre would be. One resident asked about the rationale for adding another hotel in Iqaluit, suggesting that there already may be too many hotel rooms in the community.
“If you look at the current hotels, and look back at the average occupancy — bedroom occupancy is slightly over 50 per cent per year,” Don Chenier told the presenters. “How do you rationalize building another hotel in town?”
“Our rationalization is the town is going to grow,” Nimchuk replied. “There’s a desire for Inuit to have a stake in this sector of the economy.”
Qikiqtaaluk Corp. will evaluate the state the hotel business in the city, Nimchuk added.
“The intent and direction given to the Inuit association and QC is to look at building an Inuit-owned hotel in Iqaluit,” Sheldon said.
But Chenier said he’s worried about the impact on Iqaluit’s current hotels.
“We need to know what it’s going to do to the existing hotels in town,” Chenier said after the presentation. He is general manager of Nunastar Properties Inc., which owns and operates the Astro Hill and Creekside Village residential complexes in Iqaluit.
Other questions from city residents focused on the size and scale of residential development.
Drylie said plans call for 30 units of housing per hectare, as required by the city’s general plan. The southern section of the development area, about one-third of the entire 16.2 hectares, is set aside for residential development.
“We’re probably at about 120 units,” Drylie said.
Residents at the public consultation had a chance to describe the types of housing they preferred in two exercises.
At one table, they were invited to describe ideal layouts from the inside, including number of rooms.
A second table featured a large map of the area, where residents got to show how they would like to see buildings arranged. Drylie said planners would take all public input into consideration during the planning stages of the project.
Qikiqtaaluk Corp’s next step is to present a subdivision plan to the city by mid-March.