The road into the heart of the city from the new Iqaluit International Airport isn't the most welcoming, but with 16 hectares, or 40 acres, of Inuit-owned land (IOL) opened up for development along Federal Road, there is great potential to improve the situation.
The Qikiqtaaluk Corporation (QC) officially leased the land from Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) in November, so there's one less hurdle to move ahead on a project that's been in the planning stages since 2013.
"This Inuit-owned land development will showcase how innovative development can assist in growing our city strategically in ways that foster culture, community, social infrastructure and economic opportunities," said QC president and chief executive officer Harry Flaherty.
QC project manager Sheldon Nimchuk said the first building will be the hotel and conference centre, with the plan being to build both economically-driven and socially-driven projects to enhance the area, as well as enhance the lives and Inuit and Nunavummiut.
The Planning Rationale Report is available on the QC website.
"At the time (the land) was under restriction in the city's bylaws and zoning," said Nimchuk. "Basically there was a restriction on development until such time as the city figured out what to do about the water and sanitary services that are necessary along Federal Road."
That hurdle was crossed, with that parcel of land removed from the restriction – but resolving water and sewer cost-sharing is taking longer, though the city is on board to piggy back on the development to possibly build its own new subdivision.
QC and the City of Iqaluit held a community engagement session earlier this year, where preliminary plans were explained, and comments and ideas were solicited from the public.
"We're hoping to have another community engagement session as we've developed the plan collaboratively, and to have the official documentation necessary to move through with the formal readings of council to adopt the new development scheme, which would be inclusive of the potential municipal subdivision, as well," said Nimchuk.
Nimchuk said QC would have liked to have the hotel material on this past season's sealift, but they've had to delay for a year due to a lull in communications with the city.
"(The hotel) is absolutely necessary, so we've got to try to find a way to impress that we can't lose another sealift season. There's just too much investment opportunity to bring to the city. We're just hoping that a channeled effort on decision-making will put us in the position to at least get the first reading, where it's been agreed to on the development scheme and the broad strokes of infrastructure cost-sharing."
QC would like to get site work and piling started before sealift. He sees a two-year construction period, at a rough cost of $25 million, with occupancy by the fall of 2019.
A clean-energy building is a priority.
"There's a real opportunity to showcase this as a leading-edge development in energy, employment and facilities that are going to improve and enhance program delivery on a variety of matters," he said, adding QC has done solar and wind studies.
"We started building our own understanding and capacity of the language the federal government is speaking, which is now leading to actual program dollars."
For example, there was a recent call for expressions of interest from Natural Resources Canada, and QC submitted a project outline presenting the hotel as a possible net-zero project – a building that generates as much energy as it consumes.
Nimchuk says Nunavut is capable of positioning itself on the leading edge to demonstrate advanced building efficiency, renewable energy integration, smart-grid distribution and battery storage.
"It's no longer an economic or technology challenge. It's a dedication to doing it, is what it really boils down to."
QIA and QC are also looking at partnerships in terms of getting an Inuktitut daycare on the site, as well as the elders' facility the Sailivik Society has been working on, and Qaggiavuut's performing arts centre – not to mention the proposed heritage centre, for which both QIA and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. each recently pledged $5 million.
Nimchuk figures it's not unreasonable that 2021-2022 is an achievable occupancy target for the heritage centre, if agreements in principle are reached this coming fiscal year.