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Pang awaits new Co-op and banking centre

If all goes according to schedule, a new Pangnirtung Inuit Co-operative store will open its doors in April.

A new First Nations Bank of Canada community banking centre, located in the Co-op, is also scheduled to open its doors to the community

Originally scheduled to open in December, the new Pangnirtung Co-op is now scheduled to open in April in its uptown location close to the community's health centre. photo courtesy Ron Ladd

The current Co-op store, said general manager Moussa Ndiaye, can't keep up with the growing population and the growing business.

Simply put, the old Co-op is too small.

"Way too small," agreed senior administrative officer Ron Ladd.

"The existing store is probably only 4000 square feet. It's outdated. The store is probably 40 to 50 years old."

Construction of the $5.2 million project began in the summer.

"Basically it consists of about 177 piles, which is the foundation. So those 177 piles had to be put in," Ladd said. "And the store is basically 10,000 square feet."

The new location was supposed to open in December, but delays occurred.

"There were a lot of issues with the ground when they were drilling," said Ndiaye.

The hope now is to open the store in April.

The First Nations Bank, however, will schedule its own separate grand opening.

"We need to hire and train staff," said vice-president of retail banking Leigh Solomon, adding all the materials for the banking centre arrived in Pangnirtung by sealift.

There will be two staff hired from the community.

Clients with accounts will be able to do everyday banking, such as deposits, withdrawals, and open other accounts.

"And if anybody is looking for credit needs, then we direct them through the community banking centres to either the Iqaluit branch or the Yellowknife branch," said Solomon, adding Pang will be serviced through the Iqaluit branch.

The signing of documents will happen in the community.

Other communities with First Nations community banking centres in their Co-ops are Kugluktuk, since 2015, and Baker Lake and Pond Inlet, since 2014.

"At this time we have no other commitments to opening any other community banking centres. These are the four we committed to," said Solomon.

The building itself is looking good.

"It's now covered. They are now working inside," said Ndiaye, who is excited about the new, larger space.

"We have a lot of stuff that we cannot even display properly because of lack of space."

Ndiaye says there will also be a new convenience store as part of the main store.

Along with much more storage space, the new store will have more aisles, as well as more coolers and freezers. The Tundra Take-out will be similar to the new Tundra Take-out at the new Iqaluit International Airport, offering hot food.

"It will have all the conveniences a city store has," Ndiaye said.

The growth will allow the Co-op to be more competitive with the Northern, which saw renovations a few years ago.

"They have a bigger store than ours, right now. Pretty much, the store we're building will be the same size as theirs. And, on top of that, they have a convenience store. So they take more than half of the business because of the conveniences they offer," said Ndiaye.

"Right now we try to do as much as we can, but we cannot really compete with them because they have much more to offer to the public."

The new store will be located uptown, near the health centre, while the old store is downtown.

"We're excited. We can't wait until April," said Ladd.