If there’s one organization in town that really doesn’t get enough credit for its patience, it’s Parks Canada.
During better years, the national agency that oversees Ivvavik National Park from their Inuvik headquarters makes a significant contribution to the local tourism economy.
Parks Canada is also is a active home-owner and rate-payer, owning six homes in town for its employees. Just about all of those homes were second-hand, sold to the agency by the town in the 1980s. These homes are also the agency’s largest greenhouse-gas emitters in the region.
With the federal government determined to cut Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions and do what it can to prevent severe catastrophes from runaway climate change, it makes sense for the nation’s foremost conservationist and eco-tourism agency to lead the way.
Parks has risen to the challenge, purchasing an e-bike for employees’ summertime errands around town and fitting their field transports with solar panels. Further work to make Ivvavik carbon neutral is underway.
Perhaps most-telling of Parks’ determination is the fact they’ve commissioned an architectural firm to design an Arctic-friendly net-zero home to replace its aging buildings. Each one of these specially-designed duplexes promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17,000 metric tonnes per year—a welcome change for a region drowning in diesel fumes.
Under the hood, the town appears to be on board with Parks Canada’s ambitions. The town’s motor-vehicle bylaw was modified to accommodate the use of e-bikes last year and the town sold Parks Canada two lots with the expressed intent of putting the first of these game-changing homes up. The only catch is Town Council needs to grant an exemption to the zoning of the area, which is the Carmichael Drive neighbourhood.
Unfortunately, not everyone appears to be on board with a high-end duplex designed to slash emissions by thousands of tonnes per year.
In spite of the good-faith sale with the town’s administration, Parks Canada has now had two unsuccessful proposals before town council. Last summer, council voted unanimously to turn down Parks Canada after Carmichael homeowners voiced their opposition to the idea of a duplex in their neighbourhood, and a second proposal before the new town council was withdrawn before council voted after it was clear councillors had no appetite for upsetting homeowners a third time. A previous kerfuffle had been raised over plans to build duplexes for RCMP officers in the area.
So far these are government agencies, financially able to drag their feet on these proposals. But consider this — if the underlying goal of Carmichael is to attract big developers to construct high-end homes, what message is the town sending to investors by constantly overruling its administration like this? If someone comes to the town with a proposal, administration finds them a series of appropriate lots, they purchase said lots and then can’t build on them because the town changes its mind after the ink is dried, they won’t be coming back with another proposal anytime soon.
No sane developer is going to invest in Inuvik if they run the risk of the project imploding half-way through. Town council either needs to stand up to the NIMBYs or tell administration to stop selling lots in Carmichael.