Power play in Arviat
Nunavut Housing Corp. decision unpopular

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Arviat ( May 22/00) - The Nunavut Housing Corp.'s decision to retain project authority on the construction of six housing units in Arviat is not sitting well with hamlet council.

Mayor David Alagalak says Arviat has held full project authority agreements with the Housing Corp. for the past three years.

Under the agreements, the hamlet has conducted all aspects of construction on behalf of the corporation, from tender calls to project completion.

Alagalak says the past arrangements were beneficial to both the community and the corporation, which, he says, has chosen to turn its back on community empowerment and retain project authority despite the wishes of the community.

"We had high hopes the corporation would build on the excellent working relationship created with the community over the past three years," says Alagalak.

"It's a real disappointment to see those three years of work and achievement get ignored by newly-employed decision makers at the corporation who lack the vision to see the benefits of such agreements."

Nunavut Housing Corp. president Pam Hine says a number of issues led to the corporation's decision.

She says one element is the introduction of the government's Nunavummi Nanqminiqaqtunik Ikajuuti (NNI) incentive policy which replaces the Business Incentive Policy (BIP).

"Our staff felt for this specific project, we would be better off doing a regional tender process," says Hine.

"This will enable us to bring our own staff up to speed on NNI policies and ensure consistency within the evaluation of the bids."

Hine says the corporation had to weigh many factors before reaching its decision, adding it has more than just the Hamlet of Arviat handling different aspects of the tendering process.

She says the Housing Corp.'s community partners are usually local housing organizations and her staff didn't think it was fair to grant Arviat project authority without having the time to train its housing employees under the new NNI policy.

"After the tender has been awarded, we are more than willing to talk to hamlets or local housing offices to actually have them take over the project management and contract administration aspects.

"The hamlet is making it sound like we're turning our backs on community empowerment and that's certainly not our intent.

"In fact, one of the goals in our corporate business plan is to continue to empower at the community level and have them take on more and more responsibility and that's where we want to go."