Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut December 03, 2013 - 7:12 am

We followed the rules on Igloolik materials dump, Nunavut Housing Corp. says

“I loaded up my pick-up truck three times, full”

LISA GREGOIRE
The Nunavut Housing Corp. said the value of some unused construction materials they took to the dump in Igloolik this past fall would have cost too much to sell off in an auction. They gave other material to the local housing association. (FILE PHOTO)
The Nunavut Housing Corp. said the value of some unused construction materials they took to the dump in Igloolik this past fall would have cost too much to sell off in an auction. They gave other material to the local housing association. (FILE PHOTO)

A couple of Igloolik contractors are not complaining about all the free building materials they recently scooped up from the municipal dump: they’re just wondering why the Nunavut Housing Corp. didn’t try to sell or auction off the materials instead.

Ike Haulli, president of Savik Enterprises, said he happened to be at the dump around mid-September when he noticed electrical, plumbing and other building materials still in their packages, brand new.

“I heard that someone was getting all kinds of materials the day before and the next day, I was taking garbage to the dump, and here were all these goodies,” Haulli said.

“It was to the point where we had to keep an eye on the housing truck. As soon as it went up there, we’d follow it and pick up all the stuff they were throwing out. I loaded up my pick-up truck three times, full.”

Haulli and another local contractor, Richard Turbine of LRT Construction Ltd., estimate that between them they recovered about $70,000 worth of materials.

Those materials included copper fittings, plastic pipes, electrical supplies, drywall, drywall powder, insulation, joists, nails, bolts and exterior doors.

Some of those materials have now been buried due to regular landfill maintenance by the hamlet, Haulli said.

Adam Gordon, acting chief executive officer for the housing corporation, confirmed excess materials from the Nunavut Housing Corp. were disposed of in Igloolik.

Why? Some of the materials were damaged by water, freezing or other storage issues and could not safely be resold or auctioned due to government regulations, he said.

After determining which usable materials to retain and which to hand over to the local housing organization, the housing corporation then determined the value of the remaining materials was not substantial enough to justify selling them off.

“In the NHC and general GN [Government of Nunavut] procedures for surplus, things are disposed of through public tendering process, but that process has to cost less than the potential value of the return on those items,” Gordon said.

“Ultimately,” he added, “this represents a fraction of the total remaining material that’s in the communities.”

Gordon said that those surplus building materials resulted from flawed purchasing management during the construction of social housing under the Nunavut Housing Trust — a $200 million grant that the federal government gave the NHC in 2006.

In the early years of that program, a contractor hired by the GN sent the wrong supplies to the wrong communities.

Those and other errors, detailed in a 2010 Deloitte review, occurred because NHC purchased materials en masse and then tendered the building contracts instead of tendering contracts on a supply-ship-and-erect policy, which is how NHC does it now, Gordon said.

“It is admitted that there are things that happened on some of these past projects, but I think it really needs to be acknowledged that we learned from those things and we want to do business better, in all aspects,” said Gordon.

Gordon admitted sending perfectly good building supplies to the landfill doesn’t look good.

The NHC, he said, will consider different options in future when it is disposing of inventory that cannot be feasibly tendered — finding a way to get it into the hands of interested community members, in other words.

“We completely acknowledge that any items shipped to the North, there is a cost, not only to the acquisition but to the shipment and we certainly want to promote maximized usage of all materials that we purchase.” Gordon said.

“We are going to be taking a look at the processes that were followed in Igloolik and see if there’s anything that we can do better and if there is, we will certainly do so.”

He added that future disposal still has to abide by government rules.

“It’s difficult to do those things in terms of government operations,” Gordon said. “But this effort is continuing. We’re certainly going to take a look at that.”

And there will be more disposal. While he didn’t have a list of all the communities where inventory has been identified for disposal, he said the largest amounts exist in Nunavut’s larger communities, including Clyde River.

Gordon is only acting CEO for a short time.

Lori Kimball, the NHC’s chief financial officer, will soon take on the job of CEO and president of the corporation for a six-month term at which point, Gordon will go back to his job as Chief Operating Officer.

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