Proposed boarding house backed by Iqaluit planning committee

A proposed 27-room boarding house in Iqaluit would be an affordable place to call home for people who currently live in shelters, says Laurel McCorriston, executive director of the non-profit housing organization Uquutaq Society.

The City of Iqaluit’s planning and development committee voted to grant a development permit to Uquutaq during its meeting Tuesday, where city planner Mathew Dodds outlined Uquutaq’s plan.

The society plans to construct the three-storey building with 27 single rooms in downtown Iqaluit on a lot once occupied by the Butler Building, near the Capital Suites hotel.

The “co-living” building concept includes private units and bathrooms, as well as shared kitchen spaces.

Uquutaq’s bid was the winner of a 2022 lot competition for the property. Since then, the society has demolished the old building and disposed of hazardous materials from the site.

Coun. Simon Nattaq raised concerns about the proposed boarding house’s accessibility.

McCorriston answered that the building will have exterior and interior ramps all the way to the second floor, as well as accessible rooms.

In response to a question about staffing from Coun. Romeyn Stevenson, McCorriston said the plan is to have staff on site during the day and a superintendent during evenings, as well as security who would travel between Uquutaq’s other buildings in the community.

Uquutaq Society hopes to build this three-storey, 27-room boarding house in Iqaluit for people in need of an affordable place to live. (Screenshot courtesy of the City of Iqaluit)

After receiving the committee’s unanimous support, McCorriston told Nunatsiaq News that the project would help house a variety of clientele, including young workers looking for an affordable place to live, as well as people currently living in Uquutaq’s men’s homeless shelter.

“Some of the people who are in the shelter are quite capable of living independently,” McCorriston said.

“We find people come to the shelter because they have jobs here but they have no place to stay.”

McCorriston estimates the building will cost $30 million to build. So far, Uquutaq has secured $2.7 million from Nunavut Housing Corp. and $10 million from National Indigenous Collaborative Housing Inc.

More fundraising and tendering is required, McCorriston said.

“The shelter at 1077, a lot of the men have been there for more than 10 years,” she said.

“It’ll be a great celebration for them to be able to have them move to a place they can afford and they can manage.”

Jeff Pelletier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Nunatsiaq News