NWT should look to Nunavut’s 3,000-unit housing plan, says Cleveland
Kam Lake MLA Caitlin Cleveland believes the NWT can learn from Nunavut’s ambitious, recently announced strategy of building 3,000 housing units by 2030.
Last week, NWT housing minister Paulie Chinna told the legislature that federal funding was helping the NWT to either build or renovate 510 housing units.
Cleveland said that isn’t enough.
“This does not adequately address our housing infrastructure deficit,” she said on Friday. “This is primarily required operations and maintenance on existing units.”
Instead, she asked colleagues to look to the east for inspiration, calling Nunavut’s plan to build 3,000 units over the next eight years an “absolutely outstanding” announcement.
Under the plan, announced last October, the Nunavut government says it will pursue partnerships with Inuit organizations, the private sector and other levels of government to pull in the funding needed to meet its target.
Nunavut says units will be provided throughout the housing continuum, meaning the spectrum of housing that can include emergency shelters, transitional housing, social housing and affordable home ownership.
The territory plans to address gaps by providing 300 transitional housing units, 1,400 public housing units, 900 affordable housing units and 400 market housing units.
“We have seen many examples of much-needed jobs going unfilled, or hard to fill, because of lack of housing across this territory,” said Cleveland, referring to the NWT. “This plan will reduce the social and economic costs associated with unaffordable housing.”
Cleveland also highlighted the number of jobs and “earn-while-you-learn opportunities” provided through the initiative, which aims to build skilled trade capacity in the region, and praised the strength of the partnership between Nunavut’s government and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc, the organization representing Inuit in Nunavut.
A document outlining Nunavut’s plan, the full name of which is Igluliuqatigiingniq Nunavut 3,000, describes a “new vision for housing based on the principles of Undrip.”
Nunavut is incentivizing private participation in the project, a strategy that has had limited success in the Northwest Territories. The project is expected to cost $2.6 billion, with the private sector expected to cover 35 percent of the costs and various federal grants and non-profit organizations chipping in with the rest.
In an email to Cabin Radio, Nunavut Housing Corporation (NHC) director Eric Doiron anticipated 900 units from the private sector at an estimated cost of $750,000 to $800,000 per unit.
“The NHC is presently negotiating with private-sector builders to start the 2023/24 construction season to build a certain amount of affordable housing/market housing on a pilot basis,” Doiron wrote.
“This is in alignment with our Nunavut 3,000 Strategy implementation.”
Cleveland said she would be cheering for the project’s success and hoping to see the NWT government aim higher in the future.
“This is a lofty goal with a huge price tag,” she said.
“But this plan makes Nunavut a step ahead, ready to clearly seek specific funding.
“You know what they say: shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you land among the stars.”