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'Not one square inch'

Town will not allow seniors complex at campground

Terry Halifax
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 23/02) - There will be no elders housing built in Inuvik's Happy Valley Campground.

At last Wednesday's regular meeting, town council voted against approval of a building permit for the proposed six-unit elders home

Council agreed with a motion from Coun. Denny Rodgers that opposed any development within the campground.

The original plan called for the six-plex to be built where the campground now has RV campsites.

When council wouldn't approve that site selection, the NWT Housing Corporation submitted a new plan, with the six-plex at the east end of the campground, but requiring road access and parking space from the campground.

In the motion, Rodgers said council should send a clear message to the housing corp that the Town of Inuvik is not willing to give up "one square inch" of the campground.

"They wouldn't budge on the location," Rogers said. "Now they say they can build where they couldn't before."

"All I'm saying in the motion is, 'That's enough. We have the infrastructure, let's keep it," Rodgers said. "They can build beside it on the other side of it or up on the hill."

Plan changed

Coun. Don Craik was opposed to the style of the building and said what was proposed was not what they had originally voted on.

"When we originally supported this idea we were told the seniors complex was going to blend in with the campground, it would have a common area where the elders could meet with the tourists in the summertime," Craik said. "A public housing unit does not do that."

Craik also said there was no guarantee that if Housing needs the units more for public housing than seniors, that the units would be used by Housing.

Jerry Lennie, chair of the Inuvik Community Corporation (ICC), sent town council a letter opposing the six-plex in the campground.

He said ICC has always been in favour of a facility, but they understood a new building would be built in Happy Valley, but outside the campground.

"The original plan was identical to the old folks home in Tuk: 26 people and they would get cared for," Lennie said. "They were going to develop in Happy Valley and not bother the existing park there."

ICC thought the building should be a facility and not six housing units.

"We still agree with having an old folks home, just not in prime land, and a real old folks home -- not a six-plex," he said.

Lennie said for the sake of six people, every business in town will be impacted by the loss of the campground.

"After the oil companies go, all we're going to have left is the tourists," he said.

Bertha Allen, chair of the Inuvik Seniors Society, said the group has no immediate plans for a new site.

"I think we've done all we could," Allen said. "When the greed takes over, I don't know what else we can do."

She said the elders haven't requested a new meeting and she's "fed-up" with talking about the issue.

Calls to the NWT Housing Corporation and the minister responsible were not returned by press time.