Housing lot swap
Housing units to be built in Iqaluit, not Apex

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

Iqaluit ( May 22/00) - Iqaluit's town council has vetoed the Nunavut Housing Corporation's plan to build six new public housing units in Apex.

Voted down for several reasons, Coun. Matthew Spence said when construction on the homes begins this summer, it would be in Iqaluit rather than in Apex, located approximately five kilometres outside of the capital.

"There's a number of reasons why the units aren't being built in Apex," said Spence "The zoning isn't correct. They are multi-family residential units. (The Housing Corporation) wanted to put them on single-family residential lots," he said.

Because of the proposed variance in zoning, municipal practice dictated the matter be put to the neighbours who live near the proposed development, all of whom came back to council and said they opposed the project.

Spence also said building the units in Apex would have taxed the community's trucked-water delivery system -- a service he described as already stretched.

"We're pretty well at our limit out there. We have a truck out there, but it has to come into town to fill up. That was a bit of an issue," said Spence.

He further added that the distance from stores and other services available only in Iqaluit may have proved costly for the tenants.

"Generally (social housing units) are for people who are on the lower-income end of the scale and don't necessarily have a vehicle. They find it very costly travelling back and forth (from Apex to Iqaluit)," he said.

So, when the tender for construction of the units is awarded to the winning contractor by the end of May, two of the multi-family units will be built on a lot in the new Road-To-Nowhere subdivision with the third scheduled for construction on the road heading to Apex.

Spence said the change in plans was simply a matter of the town trading ownership of the parcels of land with the Housing Corporation.

Valued at $253,000, the lots in Apex came in worth roughly $60,000 more than the town's land -- they valued their property at about $189,000.

The difference in value, Spence said, would allow the Housing Corporation to cover the costs of hooking the new units up to the utilidor.

"From a budgetary standpoint, they come out even. They will have their three units built for whatever they budgeted for and the hook-ups will be paid for essentially by the town in exchange for these lots," said Spence.

Pam Hine, the president of the Housing Corporation, said they were disappointed by council's decision at first because it seemed like the ideal way to use the lots the corporation had owned for the last four years. She added, however, that it had all worked out in the end.

The decision to build the social housing units came from Housing Minister Manitok Thompson last year when she announced her department would build a total of 100 new homes across the territory to help alleviate the housing crunch plaguing Nunavut.