MLA demands to know why ‘boarded up’ vacant houses aren’t being used

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Nunavut’s housing shortage is widely known but what remains a mystery is why so many houses sit empty and the quantity appears to be increasing, said Uqqummiut MLA Pauloosie Keyootak.

Uqqummiut MLA Pauloosie Keyootak: “It is becoming an eyesore to see all of these boarded-up units.” photo courtesy of the Government of Nunavut

He asked Housing Minister Patterk Netser to explain Friday what’s being done with these “eyesores.”

Netser said some of the residences are “past their useful lives”, while others are too mouldy. A lack of funds prevents some of them from being renovated so they are consequently boarded up, Netser said.

Damage caused by public housing tenants is a serious issue, the housing minister said.

“Sometimes when you go into a newly constructed unit, it doesn’t take very long for the units to become damaged,” said Netser. “We have to work with our tenants to look after our units, as we always face financial limitations. We are always working extra hard on these housing issues, but it cannot happen without the cooperation of the public housing tenants.”

Keyootak, who represents Qikiqtarjuaq and Clyde River, suggested that the same construction design isn’t appropriate for all communities as “the tundra without bedrock is constantly changing.”

“We’re using those piles in all of the communities and we know that the permafrost is starting to melt and it’s shifting the house. There have to be different sets of bases used depending on the ground,” said Keyootak.

Netser replied that the Nunavut Housing Corporation continues to search for best practices and solutions related to construction piles and foundations.

“When units are built on bedrock with piles drilled into the bedrock, in some years
when the drilled holes melt, then the pile starts to sink,” Netser acknowledged. “That is why the piles or foundations become a problem. Due to the shifting, our doors won’t close properly. We continue to look for solutions with the (local housing organizations) to determine what the community requires with respect to their foundations where our units are constructed upon.”

He pointed to Coral Harbour as an example where gravel foundations are used and the houses have not shifted.