Ulukhaktok Mayor Laverna Klengenberg says people in the community are “making due” with the housing they’ve got, but the community could use more social housing and some upgrades to the old homes that are currently there.
Meanwhile, three NWT Housing Corp. modular homes—which she believes are not for social housing but for market sale, as some of the corp.’s properties are—sit unfinished in the community as winter begins to set in.
On Oct. 19, Yellowknife Centre MLA Julie Green questioned Minister Caroline Cochrane about the contract behind those units. Hay River’s Concept Energy Services was awarded part of a major housing contract last year, to build 19 two-bedroom duplexes by March. Now there are three contract opportunities posted to finish the units in Ulukhaktok, which were supposed to be part of Concept’s project.
When asked what’s next, Cochrane said there are a variety of options.
“We can either work with supporting Concept Energy to do them,” said Cochrane, who is responsible for the NWT Housing Corp. “We can put them out to public tender. We can look at negotiated contracts within communities.”
Cochrane said a decision would be made within two weeks. News/North did not hear back from the Housing Corp. by press time on whether, and what, progress had been made on that decision.
While Cochrane didn’t have the numbers behind the contract on hand when questioned by Green, the website opennwt.ca posts and archives information on government tenders in the territory. It shows a $9,181,430 contract that closed May 20 for the construction of duplex and single units in multiple communities. Other details in this contract matched what was discussed in the legislative assembly: that a smaller portion of the overall contract was awarded to Yellowknife’s Energy Wall and Building Products Ltd.
As well, according to the site, Concept Energy did not obtain any other GNWT home construction contracts last year.
Pierre (Rocky) Simpson, president of Concept Energy, did not respond to requests for comment.
Back in Ulukhaktok, Klengenberg said the failure to finish these units on time wasn’t a major blow to the community, but that it would be a bigger priority to get some of the old, aging units upgraded.
“The majority of these housing units have been built in the ‘60s and ‘70s so they’re quite old,” said Klengenberg. “There’s a lot of shifting in the houses, in the units, so there’s a lot of draft. I believe a lot of them have mould issues. But, under those conditions, they are well-kept considering the age of the units.”
As well, a few more units would be put to use.
“I believe there are quite a few people on the waiting list for a housing unit—public housing,” said Klengenberg. “Mostly single people or small families.”
But, for the time being, these people have places to stay in Ulukhaktok.