Iqaluit residents voice concerns about traffic flow at Federal Road development

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Iqaluit residents voice concerns about traffic flow at Federal Road development

Plans to develop the area around Federal Road were met with concerns about traffic flow at a public meeting in Iqaluit on Wednesday night.

The City of Iqaluit and the Qikiqtaaluk Business Development Corporation (QBDC) presented two options for how to connect the development to the rest of the city, but neither went over well.

One version connected the new neighbourhood via the road behind the Aquatics Centre, while the other linked it to the city through the Plateau neighbourhood.

Concerns ranged from more traffic on steep icy roads to increased wait times at the four corners intersection. 

Adam Akpik, a homeowner in the area, said he was worried about the type of traffic as well.

"I am concerned about the fact the road will be going directly behind our house and potentially that will be a route for some drunk patrons coming from the hotel to come by our house." 

Original plans to change

QBDC wants to build a hotel in the area. It's part of a plan for the section of Inuit-owned land on the north side of Federal Road, which was approved by the city in 2015.  

It is the only building from that plan that has a development permit submitted to the city.

Shaun Sharp, project co-ordinator for QBDC, says if it's approved, it will likely break ground this May.

But since that land use plan was approved, QBDC, which manages the Inuit-owned land, has partnered with the city to expand the area being developed to include both Inuit-owned land and city-owned land. 

By joining forces, the city and QBDC can share the cost of building infrastructure out to the neighbourhood and the city gets road access through the Inuit-owned land to Federal Road since its portion of land does not directly connect.

As a result of the change, the two organizations went back to the drawing board and created two draft concepts to present to the public for feedback. 

Both plans contained the same ingredients to make a downtown-type neighbourhood with a mix of residential, commercial and industrial uses — but in different configurations.

One version shifts the planned cultural centre from the Inuit-owned lands to the city land.

"The benefit for it to be on city land is basically you would be up a ridge and have more views," said Iqaluit's director of planning and development Mélodie Simard.

There will also be views of the bay for the 700 to 900 residential units expected in the 42 hectare development area. 

QBDC expects the development to roll out in stages over the next 10 to 15 years. 

With the new airport terminal opening this summer, more traffic will access the city from the west making this new neighbourhood a "gateway to the city," according to senior planner Jason Petrunia. 

In response to concerns from attendees, Simard acknowledged that the process was rushed for this first consultation as a meeting needed to happen before the end of the federal fiscal year which ends March 31 to take advantage of available funding.

The city will be contacting leaseholders in the area and is accepting all public comments.

It will review the comments and before presenting a plan to city council for approval.