Sakku Investment Corporation’s plan for an Arviat factory that would employ Kivalliq Inuit and manufacture modular homes year-round seems so good it begs the question, why hasn’t it already been done?
The facility will be able to produce some 35 new units per year to support a rapidly growing community. Kivalliq Inuit will be able to earn certifications so they can move into private sector work, or contribute to the construction industry in their home community. It will offer stable, heated, comfortable and local employment to Arviat residents, and set Arviat itself up to reap the benefits that come with increased economic activity in town.
Sakku, through Sakku Innovative Building Solutions, is making a big play here and doing extensive prep work. The company is even using an equivalent facility in the south to make sure it can produce units to Nunavut Housing Corporation standards.
The only foreseeable concern, which is always an issue in the construction business today, is the money. Vice-president Guillaume Guida said the project was forecast to cost $30 million, but that could change with inflation, supply chain issues and the price of materials.
Although it’s an ambitious project that comes with a high development cost, Sakku isn’t looking to lose money on the Arviat undertaking. The corporation is assembling its portfolio of products as the main facility is built and aims to capitalize on the government’s Nunavut 3,000 plan to produce a chunk of the new housing required in the territory.
If this facility is successful, it’s hard to imagine why it couldn’t be replicated in other Kivalliq communities. The ability to work in construction in a comfortable space and go home at 5 p.m. instead of two weeks on, two weeks off, or living out of town is a huge benefit for families. Keeping skilled people at home is great for the community.
It seems practically perfect, but critics can always find fault.
A Globe and Mail reporter travelled to Arviat this summer and covered Sakku’s initiative, and if you look at the comments on that story, you’ll find people have plenty to pick apart.
Some of it is southern ignorance, with readers honing in on a part of the story about a woman who has 10 kids, firing up discussions around the housing crisis and high Nunavummiut birth rates.
But while one progressive initiative may not be able to resolve a complex crisis, Sakku should simply be congratulated for pursuing this ambitious factory. The corporation’s first focus is to employ people and build skills.
We’ll have to wait until at least 2025 to see how it all turns out.