Canadian Polar Commission (2014). Housing in the Canadian North: Recent Advances and Remaining Knowledge Gaps and Research Opportunities,

Keywords: architecture and designcrowdinghousing shortageshealthindoor air qualitysustainability

This is a summary of findings from a seven year review beginning in 2007 into the current state of housing in the Canadian North. The Canadian Polar Commission conducted research using semi-structured interviews with northern housing experts and supplementary literature.

An overview of the findings state that housing shortages are a significant issue, compounded by a fast growing population and huge expenses associated with building materials and construction in the North (p. 2). Those high costs lead to affordability issues, as privately owning/renting is very difficult when paired with job insecurity, a high cost of living, and high maintenance and utility fees (p. 2). The result of this multifaceted situation is that crowding and a reliance on public housing is a major concern for many Inuit communities (p. 2).

The summary then provides advances in knowledge pertaining to housing such as the correlation with health outcomes. Air quality is identified as a key issue that is being addressed, such as developing ventilation systems suited for an Arctic environment (p. 4). Designing culturally appropriate architecture and strategies responding to homelessness are further discussed as areas of current research or initiatives (p. 4).

Developing low-cost building and sustainable, affordable energy technologies are identified as the main challenges that require further research (p. 5). For instance, research identifying the current needs and forecasting future demands of communities so that housing supply can adequately addresses contextual issues across the North (p. 6). Additionally, the Commission suggests further research into the socioeconomic factors that are associated with housing such as health, education and economic status, so that policies can be informed and meaningful (p. 5 & 6).