The new owner of Iqaluit's Hotel Arctic building is the Qikiqtaaluk Corporation.
President Harry Flaherty told CBC on Monday that it has bought the property. The Inuit birthright development corporation was created by the Qikiqtani Inuit Association to provide employment and financial opportunities for Inuit.
Since the sale of the hotel, a legal battle has ensued between the property's former owners, Northview Apartment REIT, and the owners of the Waters' Edge restaurant and Kickin' Caribou pub, which operates inside the hotel. Sisters Kim and Donna Waters filed a lawsuit saying they had a verbal agreement to extend their lease beyond its end date on Aug. 31. However, a judge recently ruled that the restaurant has to go.
The hotel's sale was scheduled to close on July 28. A condition of the sale was that the hotel had to be vacant, except for the restaurant and pub, which could stay until the end of its lease.
Crews from an Iqaluit construction company were at the hotel Monday. On Tuesday, dumpsters were filled with debris and the lobby floor was torn up.
Flaherty would not get into specifics of what the Qikiqtaaluk Corporation intends to do with the property.
"Right now, we're working on office space... the main focus. Then we'll probably find out once we hear from a potential client if they're interested in using the facility and go from there," Flaherty said.
When asked if the building would be leased for a student residence for Nunavut Arctic College, Flaherty replied, "I'm not aware of that."
"All I can say right now is that we're working on different ideas. It's not one particular idea."
Flaherty refused to say how much the Qikiqtaaluk Corporation bought the building for, but estimates it will take $500,000 to get the building up to code.
He says the renovations could be done this fall or early in the new year.
Waters sisters file appeal
Meanwhile, the Waters sisters have filed an appeal with the Nunavut Court of Appeal in an attempt to keep the restaurant on the property.
The sisters are looking for a fast track appeal.
"In our particular case, because of the great urgency of the matter, we need to have a decision made before the end of August if at all possible," their lawyer, James Morton, told CBC.
"[They are] content to have the matter heard basically anywhere in Canada."
That could mean the appeal is heard in Alberta, he said.
Morton said the sisters are looking for an order that permits the restaurant and pub to operate in the same space for another five years.
"Alternately, we're looking for an order that permits the restaurant continue for the present, and then have a further determination made at a later date," he said.
He said if that doesn't happen, the sisters will be seeking damages.
Morton said reports that the restaurant will end service on Aug. 20 are not true.
"The Waters' Edge is hopeful it will be continuing and in operation at Christmas time," he said.