OPPORTUNITIES NORTH: $92.9 million in construction in Nunavut in 2022

The value of building permits in Nunavut tallied up to $92.9 million in 2022, a 12 per cent reduction from $105.6 million in 2021.

Residential building projects led the way at $55.4 million. Commercial builds were calculated at $19.3 million. Industrial construction came in at $11.6 million. Institutional and governmental initiatives amounted to $6.6 million.

Construction accounted for 6.35 per cent of Nunavut’s gross domestic product in 2022, down slightly from 6.53 per cent in 2021.

There were approximately 860 people who worked in the territory’s construction industry last year. Construction managers in Nunavut earn a median hourly wage of $47.27, according to the Canada Job Bank. That’s considerably higher than the overall median wage of $36.

Housing blitz begins

The Nunavut Housing Corporation (NHC) announced in late April that it plans to build 150 public housing units in the territory in 2023-24. There will also be close to 100 affordable housing units, at least 46 market homes in Iqaluit and staff housing units built. The total will be in the range of 360 new homes over the course of this fiscal year. The government is partnering with NCC Development Ltd. to build the 150 public housing units and to train a larger local workforce in the industry. The price per square foot for the 132 homes outside of Iqaluit was negotiated at approximately $600 per square foot.

Rising construction costs have posed challenges. Bids to erect public housing units averaged $894,000 in 2021, a substantial increase from $610,000 in 2020. In 2016, it was closer to $400,000 per unit.

“This steep increase in bid price reflects the high cost of building in the North, a shortage of developable land, limited market competition as well as the impact of Covid on supply chains and the ability of skilled labour to visit remote worksites,” the Government of Nunavut stated in its 2023-24 budget indicators summary.

Through Nunavut 3000 — or Igluliuqatigiingniq in Inuktitut — the territorial government has created an ambitious plan to construct 3,000 new residences by 2030. The funding to accomplish that objective has yet to be arranged, however.

At $110.5 million, the Nunavut Housing Corporation has the largest capital budget among the territorial government’s departments for 2023-24. It’s followed by Community and Government Services at $103.5 million.

Other major projects

In March, Pilitak Enterprises Ltd. was awarded a $36.7-million contract to build new airport terminals in Naujaat, Whale Cove and Chesterfield Inlet.

The territorial government has set aside $15.5 million for continued work on the Nunavut Recovery Centre in Iqaluit in 2023-24. The project carries an overall budget of $26.7 million.

The 24-bed long-term care centre in Rankin Inlet has $12 million approved for its third year of major construction. The facility is expected to open in 2024.

Also in Rankin Inlet, work is ongoing to expand the airport. A 53,000-square-foot terminal and renovations to the existing two-storey, 10,000-square-foot passenger building are part of the undertaking. It will cost upwards of $50 million, with the majority coming from the federal government.

In Sanikiluaq, Mikim Construction is building a $15.8-million, 7,642-square-foot hamlet office. It replaces an office complex and hotel that was badly damaged in a 2020 windstorm. The community also has a 14-bed women’s and children’s shelter being built that is expected to open in 2024.

A 37,943-square-foot high school with a daycare is expected to start construction in Taloyoak soon. Major renovations and an addition at Sakku School in Coral Harbour, major renovations to the school in Arctic Bay and an addition to Ecole des Trois-Soleils in Iqaluit are also on the books for this year.

Promoting apprenticeships

The Government of Nunavut also noted that its been promoting apprenticeships through Nunavut Arctic College and the Department of Family Services in response to shortages of skilled labour.

In 2021, Nunavut’s apprentices numbered 159, a 3.9 per cent increase from 2020. There were 30 heavy-duty mechanic apprentices, 24 electrician apprentices, 21 carpenter apprentices, 15 in plumbing and nine in automotive services.

“Despite the recent growth in apprenticeships, it is important to note the current total is well below the 2010 peak of 255—and Nunavut lags the other two territories considerably (546 in Yukon and 339 in NWT),” the GN stated.

For more stories from Opportunities North 2023, click this link: https://www.nunavutnews.com/special-feature/opportunities-north-2023/

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