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Editorial: Building a greener future

Green infrastructure projects across the territory are promising initiatives to build on

The issue: Green innovation

We say: Promising initiative

It was announced earlier in May that the Pitquhirnikkut Ilihautiniq/Kitikmeot Heritage Society (PI/KHS) is teaming up with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology’s (SAIT) Green Building Technologies Lab on a prefabricated green building, to be shipped up to Cambridge Bay on this summer’s sealift and reassembled in the community.

While the final function of the building – which will be under 1000-square feet – hasn’t yet been decided, the goal is to create something scalable that can be used as a model for larger and more complex builds as time goes on.

Construction is hoped to begin in September this year. It will be completed with help from the SAIT team, who will also train local partners and community members during the build.

This is fantastic – a great example of capacity building and forward thinking.

Whether this building gets used as a living space, or a cultural hub, or it finds some other use, there will be real benefits to be reaped for future projects across the territory.

More efficient to assemble, prefabricated buildings can cost 10 to 20 per cent less to construct. These sorts of buildings could be a game-changer in getting more homes for Nunavummiut built, faster.

“We all know how the housing crisis has affected not only Nunavut but other areas as well – I think having innovative ways to model and learn more about how we can be climate conscious is very exciting,” Cambridge Bay Mayor Pamela Gross said.

Building in harmony with the environment, as the Nunamiutuqaq project proposes, is also an admirable goal, and something all provinces and territories could stand to learn from.

Being able to construct more cultural hubs and performance spaces in communities could be another perk from this project.

Qaggiavuut has been advocating for a cultural hub in Iqaluit for over a decade now, and for good reason. Arts centres are a lifeline for communities, revitalizing them and providing a space to celebrate, protect and promote language and culture.

The central hub must be built first – the feasibility study completed in February 2020 shows that the proposed Qaggiq Hub would support 408 full-time jobs and inject an estimated $41 million into Nunavut’s economy over its first five years.

“The new Qaggiq Hub will provide significant benefits in five key areas: society, health and well-being, education, innovation and economy,” a 2019 Qaggiavuut news release states. “Cultural, community, government, and business stakeholders agree that investment in cultural facilities will make Iqaluit more livable and drive tourism and economic growth.”

Then-executive director Ellen Hamilton stated, “In other words, we are strengthening the Nunavut economy through the arts, as much as we are strengthening language and culture.”

This too, could be scaled to smaller communities, where full- and part-time jobs in the arts and culture sectors could be generated.

“Of course, there would be socio-economic benefits, as well,” said Hamilton. “It costs $350 a day to keep a man in prison. The performing arts are one of the ways you reduce risk. It’s also a very effective way of educating people, keeping them motivated.”

Building a green future together that makes it easier to promote healthy communities is a step closer with this Cambridge Bay project.