Tender Conflict
Arviat upset with Housing Corp. decision

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Arviat ( May 24/00) - The Nunavut Housing Corporation's decision to offer a regional tender for the construction of six housing units in Arviat is a decision to ignore community empowerment, says hamlet administrative officer Darren Flynn.

The hamlet has had full project authority agreements with the Housing Corp. for the past three years, overseeing all aspects of construction.

Flynn says the hamlet has a hard time believing the main reason it was denied full project authority was the implementation of the NG's Nunavummi Nangminiqaqtunik Ikajuuti (NNI) incentive policy.

He says Arviat's labour requirements have always called for 80 per cent local Inuit employment, while NNI calls for a minimum 30 per cent Inuit hire.

"We could have an Inuit-owned company come into town meeting all that criteria and only be obligated to hire 30 per cent local," stressed Flynn.

"Instead of 100 per cent of the labour dollars going into local employment, less than one-third could amount from this.

"The feeling we have is that this decision is going to cost our community money."

Housing Corp. president Pam Hine says the corporation has no intention of turning its back on community empowerment.

She says a number of factors contributed to its decision and the 30 per cent Inuit hire contained in NNI has to be put into proper perspective.

"The 30 per cent labour content is strictly a minimum requirement," says Hine.

"If a local contractor puts in a bid stating he can provide 80 or 100 per cent local Inuit labour, there's clauses in this new incentive which will take that into consideration during the bid evaluation.

"In fact, upon completion of the project and with proof these requirements were maintained, the contractor would get a bonus."

Differing opinions on whether contractors were honouring local Inuit hire ratios caused some controversy in the Kivalliq this past year.

Hine says ensuring contract terms are met is one reason the Housing Corp. is willing to negotiate project management at the community level. "We realize a community can better monitor a project in a hamlet away from the regional office.

"If we have the community housing association or hamlet looking after project management, it can be monitored from a bird's eye view.

"That's why this is not a move away from community empowerment.

Flynn says moving away from a proven formula to give the Housing Corp. central authority on the Arviat project isn't logical.

"We've met our requirements of 20 per cent Inuit supply and 80 per cent local Inuit labour on every project we've done here," says Flynn.

"When a community takes a government policy and achieves greater results than what was originally intended, why would that not be acceptable to the government?"