Technicon Industries aims to have the duplexes completed soon. (Photo Gerry Leibel)

Two projects to tackle Haisla housing shortage

B.C. government plans to build more than 280 homes across nine communities in the north

The first of two Kitamaat Village housing projects aimed at reducing the housing shortage for Haisla Nation members is nearing completion.

The duplex project, funded by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), consists of three duplexes, a mix of two-, three- and four-bedroom homes.

Haisla Nation Council spokesperson Cameron Orr said local firm Technicon Industries aims to have the duplexes completed by May 2019.

HNC’s development department will manage the duplexes once completed and will begin accepting applications from prospective tenants in either late spring or early summer 2019.

The second project, one of the largest construction projects undertaken in Kitamaat Village, is an affordable apartment complex which will see 23 units built.

Port Moody-based contractor Yellowridge Construction was the successful bidder for the contract to construct the facility, which received a significant financial boost from the provincial government last month.

BC Housing announced on November 24 that it would commit $7.5 million to Victoria-based M’akola Housing Society for the project. Once completed, the apartment complex will be managed by the society, which has an office in Terrace.

The apartments will be a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units. The project is expected to be completed in 2020.

“In total, this means 29 new living spaces in progress in Kitamaat Village which will be open over the course of the next two years,” HNC chief councillor Crystal Smith.

She said the lack of housing is probably one of the biggest issues that came up for Haisla members during discussions around the Comprehensive Community Plan.

“Housing will just become more important as projects move forward in the area. Giving our members access to more affordable housing will mean more Haisla can live at home, close to their families,” said Smith.

BC Housing’s contribution to the apartment complex project is part of the provincial government’s 10-year, $550-million commitment to build 1,750 social housing units over the next two to four years.

Prince Rupert MLA Jennifer Rice said the announcement is a step in the right direction.

“Locally, I’ve witnessed many people couch surfing between their reserve communities and over-crowded homes in Prince Rupert. There’s not enough available housing both on and off reserve and Indigenous people are over-represented in the homeless population. This is a first step in reconciling this and reconciling with Indigenous peoples,” Rice said.

B.C. is the first province to invest provincial housing funds into on-reserve housing, and while it is an important first step there is much work to be done.

“The housing situation facing Indigenous peoples in British Columbia is unacceptable,” said provincial housing minister Selina Robinson.

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An artist impression of the apartment complex. (Image supplied)

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