Nunastar Properties Inc. President Calls on Federal and Territorial Governments to Help Fund Infrastructure Projects in Iqaluit
The City of Iqaluit’s decision to raise property taxes and water and sewer charges is “very reasonable,” but signals a larger problem that will require the help of the federal and territorial governments to address. according to a real estate developer.
Iqaluit city councilors this week approved a 3% increase in property taxes, a 0.5% increase in water charges and a 2% increase in sewer charges.
With rising inflation, rising fuel and development costs, in addition to the water emergency and the ongoing pandemic, the increases “could easily have been higher,” the president said. of Nunastar Properties Inc., Ed Romanowski.
Romanowski said he expects property taxes to increase 2-3% this year and that since the city changed its policy for taxing mixed-use businesses, his company has been able to ‘absorb part of the increase in costs and to ‘smooth [rent increases] outside.”
For an average two-bedroom suite in an apartment building, a 3% increase in property tax equates to a $4 increase in operating costs per month, he said, adding that it’s without the increased costs of water and sewer, fuel, insurance and maintenance, among others.
Com. Kyle Sheppard, finance committee chair, said the city has tried to keep increases low this year, even as it struggles to fund big projects, such as sewage plant upgrades and of the sewage system.
Both Sheppard and Romanowski said the high cost of expanding water and sewer systems is one of the biggest impediments to city development, and that development on the outskirts of the city is much more expensive.
“The big picture is that anything the city can do to reduce costs is just another of those enablers that help invest more in the community,” Romanowski said.
Currently, Nunastar is considering developing the land next to Building 350, across from Arctic Ventures, and even this centrally located property, he said, needs a reservoir of sewage which must be emptied during off-peak hours.
With the price of development in Iqaluit about 2.3 times higher per square foot than in Toronto, rising costs are making it difficult to build homes and commercial space, Romanowski said.
“It’s not just about utility costs, it’s about, what’s the environment for investment? This environment must be there to solve the housing crisis.
A storage tank will cost Nunastar hundreds of thousands of dollars, Romanowski said, which will be partially covered by rental prices. But if the infrastructure is there, which the city is looking to continue improving this year, those costs can come down.
“It’s going to have a much bigger effect on affordable housing in the community than the landlord raising rents,” he said.
He said water, sewer, property tax and rent costs won’t go down unless the federal and territorial governments help pay for better infrastructure, such as water pipes and a water treatment plant.
“We need to see commitment from the top level of government,” he said. “There are some coming, but a lot more are needed.”