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Iqaluit city councillor slams development draw, says changes needed

An Iqaluit city councillor believes more needs to be done to help housing development in the city and that proposed bylaw changes could help fix things.

Current land lottery system is inefficient, needs updating says Coun. Kyle Sheppard

Coun. Kyle Sheppard expressed concerns on social media over Iqaluit's most recent land lottery. (Sara Frizzell/CBC)

An Iqaluit city councillor believes more needs to be done to help housing development in the city and that proposed bylaw changes could help fix things. 

Coun. Kyle Sheppard first expressed his concern on social media earlier this month, after a ballot draw for 19 lots in the Joamie Court subdivision, calling it "literally the least efficient way" to decide how land in the city is developed. 

"It is a very inefficient way of developing housing," Sheppard said in an interview with CBC News. 

Iqaluit's current development system doesn't allow for productive housing growth, he said.

"Basically, every house built in Iqaluit is a one off custom home," said Sheppard. "There is no economy of scale."

Iqaluit still operates under the land administration bylaw from 1996, when Iqaluit was still part of the Northwest Territories.

The bylaw has since been rewritten but still needs to pass its third and final reading before it takes effect. It will change the ballot system to give Inuit residents a better chance of winning a land lot. Council has also added a clause for private developers to build on land allocated for them. 

Currently, there is no provision that allows private developers to build on bare pieces of land. But the new private developers section of the draft bylaw would allow the city to allocate large parcels of land specifically for developers to build neighbourhoods to sell to the public.

"You can build more houses at once, hopefully at lower cost to residents in the end," said Sheppard.

Updating the ballot draw

The ballot draw system is used to help give first time home buyers a better chance of winning. The new bylaw still favours first time home buyers but also gives Inuit residents an upper hand.

Currently, Inuit residents have an equal chance to win a land lot as non-Inuit residents.

Under the new bylaw Inuit residents who are on the Nunavut Inuit Enrolment List, and whose home community is Iqaluit, will receive six ballots – the most a single person can receive.

An updated land administration bylaw proposes changes meant to give Inuit a better chance of owning a home and allow further private development in Iqaluit. (David Gunn/CBC)

If you are Inuit from Nunavut, but you're originally from a community outside Iqaluit, you are eligible to receive five ballots.

There are six categories with different weightings a person can fit into for a draw.  

"More needs to be done from all levels to move to greater Inuit home ownership," said Sheppard. "Anything we can do to help is definitely important."

The new lands administration bylaw will be brought back to city council where it will be voted on for third reading.

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