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Battle over ‘deficient’ flooring delays Iglulik school opening

There's still no official opening date in sight for the new high school in Iglulik as the Government of Nunavut and the company that constructed the building fight over the condition of the flooring.

The new high school in Iglulik has not opened due to a dispute with Quebec-based contractor over what the GN describes as deficient flooring. Photo courtesy of the Government of Nunavut

The installed flooring has "severe deficiencies," according to deputy minister Pujjuut Kusugak.

There's also no agreement on whether the issue is heading to court. A statement from Kusugak indicates the matter is "in litigation." However, a representative of contractor FCNQ Construction – a Quebec-based arm of the Federation of Co-operatives – countered that "there has been no judicialization of the matter at the present time."

"We can also state that, while there are concerns that have been raised in regards to a portion of the floors in the building, concerns that our client qualifies as serious deficiencies, it is our opinion that the responsibility for such quality issues has not yet been assigned," said the FCNQ Construction spokesperson, who requested not to be named because doing so could further inflame tensions between the parties.

The 33,140-square-foot school, which carried a projected $29.6 million price tag, was expected to open in August. Meanwhile students continue to attend the aging Ataguttaaluk Secondary School, which is at 97 per cent capacity. The new high school is designed to accommodate 229 students.

Mayor Celestino Uyarak said residents of his community have been looking forward to using the new facility, particularly the daycare, which will alleviate demand on the community's existing service.

"I have been trying to find out if the Department of Education has set any dates for the opening. As of today, we have not been notified," Uyarak said on Nov. 6. "It's costing the GN a lot of money."

The issue arose in the legislative assembly on Nov. 1 when Aggu MLA Paul Quassa noted that the GN has requested additional funds to complete the project. Quassa asked whether the delay in opening the school will last a year.

Education Minister David Joanasie replied, "We cannot really say how long the delay is going to be for as it might have to go through the court system."

Uyarak noted that Iglulik faced a similar situation in the construction of its community hall four years ago when deficiencies under a different contractor postponed the opening of that building.