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City revamps Iqaluit's land bylaw to help Inuit secure lots

The City of Iqaluit has returned from the drawing board with a new proposal on how to divvy land lots around Nunavut's capital, while still giving preference to Inuit.

Public consultation on tap for tonight

A building under construction in Iqaluit's new Joamie Court subdivision. (Nick Murray/CBC)

The City of Iqaluit has returned from the drawing board with a new proposal on how to divvy land lots around Nunavut's capital, while still giving preference to Inuit.

The Land Administration Bylaw aims to change the way the city distributes its residential lots. Right now, it's through a lottery system which gives preference to first-time homebuyers. The new bylaw seeks to give more preference to Inuit over non-Inuit.

Last year, the territorial government rejected a proposed bylaw which sought to give Inuit from Iqaluit preference over Inuit from other communities.

At the time, Nunavut's Department of Community and Government Services — which has to approve new municipal bylaws in the territory — said classifying people based on where they're from presented legal concerns.

The new bylaw proposes to reserve 30 per cent of new lots specifically for Inuit, and all applicants must have lived in Iqaluit for at least two years.

The raffle system would happen in two stages. The first draw would be for those 30 per cent of new lots, and only Inuit would be entered into the draw. The second draw would be for the remaining lots, with Inuit getting three ballots in the draw, with non-Inuit getting a single ballot.

"It's a matter of providing Inuit priority to access to land. Predominantly in Iqaluit, there's income disparities at play. And often times Inuit are slightly disadvantaged to accessing land in their own territory," said City of Iqaluit Coun. Kyle Sheppard.

"I think the proposal the city is putting forward right now is a step in the right direction in addressing that in the long term."

Coun. Kyle Sheppard says the new bylaw is about providing Inuit priority to access to land. He says often times, Inuit are slightly disadvantaged to accessing land in their own territory. (David Gunn/CBC)

Flipping lots to larger developers

Sheppard says the hope with the bylaw is that by providing initial access to first time homebuyers, it will lead to more home ownership in the city.

Still, while the new bylaw tilts the scales to help Inuit to access land lots as they open up, it doesn't have measures from preventing draw winners from flipping their lots to larger developers.

"The city doesn't ultimately have control over who the end occupant of the land is, which has been a problem historically. As much of the focus of the city is on first time homebuyers and private residences, it's very difficult to manage that legally," Sheppard said.

"It's a bit of a legal grey area whether we can restrict what happens with that land once it's assigned to somebody. So we've got to walk a fine line on that."

The city is holding a public consultation on the proposed bylaw Tuesday night at 6 p.m., via livestream.

More information is available on the City of Iqaluit's website.

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