Nunavut MLAs will look at preliminary spending on big new Baffin jail
Proposed Qikiqtani Correctional Healing Centre will replace BCC
Late in the afternoon Oct. 19, Nunavut MLAs started looking at the Government of Nunavut’s plan to spend $200 million on capital projects across the territory in 2017-18, including the first amounts slated for a big new correctional healing centre in Iqaluit.
Finance Minister Keith Peterson kicked off that process by gaining unanimous consent to move Bill 24, the bill that authorizes next year’s capital budget, into second reading and committee of the whole.
But at the same time, MLAs will also see a list of big projects for which the federal government, not the GN, will pay most of the cost.
At the top of that list is the new Qikiqtani Correctional Healing Centre—a 120-bed replacement for the notorious Baffin Correctional Centre.
Peterson, also the minister responsible for the correctional system, will ask MLAs to vote in favour of spending only $812,000 on that project in 2017-18—although the GN intends future spending of about $15.4 million between 2019 and 2022.
But that’s just the GN’s money, which represents only about one in every four dollars to be spent on the project.
Between 2019 and 2022, Ottawa will give Nunavut $57 million for the Qikiqtani healing centre through the New Building Canada Fund: about 75 per cent of the total cost, which adds up to $75.93 million.
Peterson told Nunatsiaq News earlier this month the government will do the project in stages, and that inmates will be housed in a new maximum security addition to BCC until the project is completed around 2020.
Most of the other big projects to be financed through the New Building Canada Fund are already well-known to the public, such as the $84.9 million deep sea port project planned for Iqaluit, the small craft harbour planned for Pond Inlet, and the new Kenojuak Cultural Centre in Cape Dorset.
Also, at Rankin Inlet, Ottawa will chip in $5.9 million to help pay for a $7.3 million utilidor replacement and in Cambridge Bay, Ottawa will contribute $3.1 million to a $4.2 million arena repair project.
However, Nunavut must dip into its own coffers to pay the entire cost of a new high school in Cape Dorset to replace the Peter Pitseolak school, which burned down in a fire set by young vandals in September 2015.
For 2017-18, MLAs will be asked to vote on $14.5 million for the new Cape Dorset school, whose total cost will eventually come to about $34 million.
On social housing, the capital budget provides for $47.7 million in new housing construction, using federal money, but right now its not clear how many units they’ll build and in what communities they’ll be located.
The Nunavut Housing Corp. also proposes spending $4.29 million of GN money on retrofits throughout the territory.
And using a combination of GN funds and money from the Canada Mortgage Housing Corp., the NHC will, between now and 2022, spend $53.16 million on housing retrofits.
The Department of Community and Government Services plans $41.4 million in capital spending, on items that include new garages, fire trucks, tank farm upgrades, and water system upgrades.
Resolute Bay will eventually get a new water system by 2022, in a two-phase project, at a total cost of $20 million, $15 million of which comes from the New Building Canada Fund. This year, MLAs will vote on $2 million of that funding for Resolute Bay.
Also, MLAs will vote on $9 million worth of money to fund an addition to the Nunavut Arctic College campus in Iqaluit.
That’s another project where Ottawa will have made a large contribution.
Through another federal program called the Strategic Investment Fund, Ottawa will, by 2022, have contributed about $10.6 million to the new NAC building, and the GN will have spent $18.9 million.
The Iqaluit airport project, which opens next year, will get another $48.47 million in GN capital money in 2017-18.
The Department of Economic Development and Transportation is set to spend the largest amount of capital money in 2017-18: $61.3 million.
The CGS department plans $41.4 million in capital spending and the Department of Education plans to spend $34.99 million.
The Department of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs plans the smallest amount of capital spending in 2017-18: only $100,000.
The fall sitting of the legislative assembly started Oct. 18 and is expected to continue until early November.
MLAs will likely look at the main budget for 2017-18 early next year. In Nunavut, the legislative assembly usually votes its capital budget in the fall sitting that precedes the fiscal year, to accommodate sealift deadlines.