Inuvik town council was packed Monday evening as residents crowded to express concern over a proposed development of RCMP duplexes on Carmichael Drive.
A relatively quiet neighbourhood that attracts buyers for its single home residences is set to double in size if council votes in favour of eight RCMP duplexes and an additional single home Wednesday evening. The builds follow an NWT Housing Corporation announcement last month that included the homes as part of 45 new RCMP housing units across the territory.
While speakers expressed support for RCMP neighbours, they took issue with increased density and changing the character of their neighbourhood.
“I don’t feel like living in an RCMP garrison,” said Kevin Campbell, whose home would have RCMP units on either side of it under the plan.
“I’m going to be like the CO sitting in the middle with this nice beautiful home,” he told Inuvik Drum. “RCMP on the left and right of me, and it looks like I’ll be living in a garrison.”
Mayor Natasha Kulikowski asked if renovating the current RCMP housing units was an option. Randy Cleveland, representing NWT Housing Corporation, explained it wasn’t due to reasons on the federal government’s end.
GNWT-owned land by the Blue Berry Patch, meanwhile, was earmarked for affordable housing and Aurora College student housing, he said. He expressed interest in adjacent town-owned land which is available in the yearly tax sale for $200,000.
Speaking to Inuvik Drum, Campbell reiterated other residents’ comments that more RCMP officers in the neighbourhood would be welcome. He did, however, take issue with the concentration of police. He bought the house for $600,000 and said his value will go down. If the units went up, “it’s worth nothing,” he said.
“I have nothing against the RCMP. I like them. But do I want 17 of them or 18 of them living all around me? I don’t think so,” he said, explaining the officers should be more spread out, particularly if there was an emergency.
Another resident, Mathew Miller, had an issue with transience in the neighbourhood, where residents plan to settle down. “(RCMP) come in and then they leave,” he said.
“This is for people that live here, not for necessarily convenience for two or three years,” Miller said.
When asked following the council presentation, Insp. Kent Pike said the discussion is why they have the meetings. He understood concerns weren’t reflective of the RCMP.
“On the surface it appears there’s a lot of pushback, but these people live here,” he said. “And we as members live here as well, but we come every three or four years. Let’s not lose sight that we do stay in these communities and become a part of those communities as well.”
Cleveland echoed the sentiment; he appreciated the feedback.
There was some push back, he acknowledged, but also, “there always is.” He added that the houses were not modular builds, which Former Mayor Jim McDonald criticized earlier in the meeting as “lipstick on a pig.” Cleveland assured the houses would be quality-built.
When asked how he felt about the proposal’s chances on Wednesday’s vote, he said it was council’s decision.
“People live there, they’re connected to their neighbourhood. All of that’s really good. That’s the kind of town you want. You want a place where people feel good about where they live, and are proud of it and provide input,” he said. “That’s exactly what you want here.”