Brick by brick, beam by beam
Construction of Nunavut legislature well under way

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

IQALUIT (Sep 21/98) - Be it housing units, a new school or much needed office space, it seems that something is being built on every corner and every street in Iqaluit. But nothing is quite so impressive as the future Nunavut Legislative Assembly.

The Nunavut Construction Corporation's most high-profile project -- the three-storey structure -- is right on target so far and should be complete by March 15, 1999, two weeks before the 19 members of the Nunavut Legislative Assembly are sworn in.

"Once your schedule gets out of whack, you tend to spend more money but we're ahead so far," said Tagak Curley, the president of NCC. Reluctant to release the exact budget of the legislature until lease negotiations are finalized, Curley did say that the final cost of the privately-funded building would ring in at more than $10 million.

"We'll be releasing that information later on but before the federal government signs the lease, we don't want to say publicly," noted Curley.

When the government begins to make lease payments, Nunavut beneficiaries, the owners of the building, will see those profits.

"The idea of a construction company is to make a profit and return the money to the shareholders," explained Helmut Falkenau, the senior project manager for NCC.

Money matters aside, the actual construction timeline is also said to be on schedule.

The remaining 30 per cent of the materials is set to arrive on the last sealift of the year, in October. Falkenau said that after installation of the building's 200 windows is completed, sometime this week, his team of workers will begin to close in the rest of the structure, allowing them to continue working over the course of the winter.

"The weather is pushing us to bring the building in," noted Falkenau. He said once the structure is enclosed, his workers will stop working double shifts.

"By mid-October, it should be back to normal," said Falkenau.

By that time, the workforce will be at 100 per cent capacity, employing a total of 40 workers, the majority of whom have been drawn from the Iqaluit labour pool. About 68 per cent of those employees are Inuit and eight are completing apprenticeships.

"We're offering a's part of our mandate. We also provide a training component," said Falkenau.

Other benefits to building

Matthew Kilabuk is one of those working on his apprentiship while working on the Nunavut Legislative Assembly.

Now in his second year of the four-year carpenter's program, he said working for NCC has been extremely beneficial to him.

"It's been really good. I'm learning a lot of things about building houses and an office building," said Kilabuk, who has also worked for NCC on their housing units.

General labourer Saudloo Josephie started with the construction corporation in Rankin Inlet and moved to Iqaluit to work on the legislature.

"I wanted to move here. It's pretty good. I like it," said Josephie.

Described as two separate buildings connected by a hallway, the building of the legislature has also brought good news for many members of the local business community. Citing three local companies as having received major subcontracts for the construction project, Falkenau added that several other companies had profited as well.

"There are spinoffs to at least 20 other local means lots of money for the community."

But Falkenau said that it hasn't always been such an easy project. Because of so much government bureaucracy and red tape, many decisions affecting the construction have been slow in coming.

"It's very hard to do construction in this way...there have been too many bosses and not enough workers. But life is nothing without a challenge."