Councillors and residents of Inuvik got their first look at the plans for the town’s new centre stage and covered Arctic Market building and visitor’s centre, alongside with an update on the gateway sign, at the May 11 Committee of the Whole meeting.

Director of tourism and economic development Jackie Challis updated the town’s capital projects, put together through the work of all the town’s departments and funded through the town’s capital budget as well as from Canada Heritage.

“These are going to be major projects and assets for the community,” said Challis. “They’re a collaboration of all of our departments.”

A final design concept for the Arctic Market and Visitor centre, covered in part by CanNor, has been received by the town and preparation on the site, including work on the pilings, electricity and utilidor hookup was the next step.

Challis noted the town needed to make some key decisions in regards to the new building regarding the scope and budget, noting a plan to use Aurora College’s skilled trades program to cover some of the labour will no longer work in wake of COVID-19.

“As a result of COVID-19, that program is no longer taking place,” she said. “So we do have a bit of a gap in terms of providing that labour under that price.”

Challis added the town was looking into options to preserve artwork, such as the mural, at Chief Jim Koe park, once work begins as the structures currently in the park will need to be demolished.

A final design concept of the Arctic Market and Visitor’s Centre that was presented to Town Council May 11.
(courtesy Town of Inuvik)

Performance Pavilion purchased

With the final site design approved, Inuvik’s new stage, dubbed the ‘Performance Pavilion’, will have four major components and should begin construction this summer.

Serving as the centrepiece of the new gathering space, the trailer stage has been purchased and is already on-site in town.

“It’s the same model, but a newer version of the current stage,” said Challis. “The platform stage… (is) currently being shipped and will be awaiting with our shipping partner in Edmonton and then when the highway opens it will come up.”

A rendering of the new larger stage that will be delivered to town once the Dempster Highway re-opens to traffic that was presented May 11 to Town Council. (courtesy Town of Inuvik)
A rendering of the trailer stage the town has purchased as part of the upgrades to Chief Jim Koe Park which was presented May 11 to Town Council. (courtesy Town of Inuvik)


Also included in the new pavilion will be three sets of bleachers, complete with accessibility options for people with limited mobility.  Challis noted the bleachers were also already purchased and were in the process of fabrication.

Each bleacher will have ramps and places to accommodate both wheelchairs and baby strollers. The bleachers are also significantly further above the ground and will have capacity for 270 people.

Lastly, the final portion of the centre is the cover structure and membrane, which is close to manufacture, with the town having hammered out a purchasing agreement and approved the final design.

A rendering of the structure that shelter the new performance pavilion from the elements. It can be further covered during the wintertime. (courtesy Town of Inuvik)

Artwork similar to what will be on the also planned gateway sign will be painted onto the membrane covering. Challis anticipated the structure would not arrive in Inuvik until July or August.

During the summer, the cover will be able to open its walls to have a covered outdoor area. Walls will be set up alongside with lockable doors during the wintertime. LED lights placed inside the pavilion during the wintertime could be used to create artificial auroras.

New Gateway Sign goes to tender

As for the new gateway sign, expected to stand across from the Caps off Recycling bottle depot, Challis told council the tender had been put out and the site was being assessed for pilings.

She noted the town still had to sign off on the final design of the structure before fabrication of the new welcoming icon could begin. She also cautioned council major changes to the design could lead to cost overruns, since because of COVID-19 the work on installing pilings was already happening late-in-season.

“Really they should go in when it’s cold and the ground is still frozen,” she said. “Having to work in that time line, and maybe some things that are happening with late going-to-tender and fabricators and meeting those needs of the pilings, we should be okay, but just looking if there is a potential effect on the budget.”

Town Council was presented with three potential designs for the replacement for the town’s ageing “End of the Dempster” sign, which included a misspelling of “Northwest Territories.” At the time the third option using an interactive sculptured monument was given preference. But it was the first option, called a landscape wall, that council saw the near-final design of during their April 27 Committee of the Whole.

The style Fathom Studio used as the base for Inuvik’s upcoming new gateway sign that was presented to council in November. (courtesy Town of Inuvik)
A sign concept that Town Council expressed preference for during their Nov. 13 meeting. (courtesy Town of Inuvik)
A rendering of the proposed new Welcome to Inuvik sign that was shown to council April 27. Councillors were universally unimpressed with the font design and have asked the architecture firm to redesign the font of the structure. (courtesy Town of Inuvik)

At the time, Councillors were unanimously unimpressed by the choice of font for the town’s name, which used a non-local font, merged the second “i” into the “k” and was completely lower case.

Town Council has since seen a modified design that uses a different font.

The final design of the Welcoming Sign will reflect the final design of the Performance Pavilion.

Eric Bowling

Breaking News Reporter and Digital Editor for NNSL, Eric operates out of Inuvik in the Beaufort Delta. He's four years into his Northern adventure and is eager to learn more about life in the Arctic Circle....

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