Housing minister Selina Robinson. Tyler Olsen/Black Press file photo

Housing minister Selina Robinson. Tyler Olsen/Black Press file photo

Provincial funds allocated for on- and off-reserve Indigenous housing in Quesnel

A new build will offer 27 homes on Front Street; 10 homes to be built on Red Bluff reserve

Quesnel has received funding for both on- and off-reserve affordable homes for local Indigenous people.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing announced Nov. 24 that more than 1,100 new homes are coming for Indigenous peoples across the province, with a total of 37 slated for the Quesnel area.

Lhtako Dené (Red Bluff) Nation has received $2 million to fund 10 homes on its reserve, while $5.4 million has been allocated to Dakelh and Quesnel Community Housing Society for 27 homes in the city.

READ MORE: Dakelh Housing Society to run McLean Street building as well as Lions’ Silver Manor

Dakelh and Quesnel Community Housing Society’s executive director Luanne Ruotsalainen confirmed that the funding the society has received will be for a new building located on Front Street, although she is not able to release more details at this time.

On Lhtako Dené’s reserve, which is located south of Quesnel, the 10 additional homes will likely be multi-family dwellings, said band administrator Garry Yablonski.

The band currently already has a six-plex under construction, and Yablonski said they are considering building another, plus a few duplexes.

“[On top of this], we probably need roughly another 10 units, and that will satisfy our needs for the next few years. But we have a lot of young families having children, so our little community is growing,” he said.

Yablonski said the band office does have a waitlist of people hoping for on-reserve housing. He hopes construction on the new BC Housing-funded buildings will begin around May 2019.

“We are very excited as a team to have had the opportunity to apply for the fund and to be a successful recipient. Chief Clifford Lebrun is very excited for the community and is thankful towards BC Housing and the province.”

Projects were selected through a request for proposals, which was issued on June 18 and closed on Oct. 5, 2018. Part of a 10-year, $550-million commitment to build 1,750 new units of social housing for Indigenous peoples, these 1,143 new homes will be built over the next two to four years.

This first set of homes selected through the Building BC: Indigenous Housing Fund includes nearly 780 off-reserve homes and close to 370 homes on-reserve. This makes B.C. the first province in Canada to invest provincial housing funds into on-reserve housing.

Other communities in Northern B.C. to receive funding include:

  • Prince George (off-reserve): $10 million to Aboriginal Housing Society – 50 homes
  • Prince Rupert (off-reserve): $12 million to Lax Kw’alaams WAAP Housing Society – 60 homes
  • Terrace (off-reserve): $9.6 million to M’akola Housing Society – 48 homes
  • Kitamaat Village (on-reserve): $7.5 million to M’akola Housing Society – 23 homes
  • Lax Kw’alaams (on-reserve): $4 million to Lax Kw’alaams WAAP Housing Society – 20 homes
  • Skidegate (on-reserve): $4.8 million to Skidegate Band Council – 24 homes
  • Witset (on-reserve): $5.2 million to Witset First Nation – 26 homes

“The housing situation for many B.C. First Nations communities has been crippled by decades of federal government funding policies and models that haven’t kept up with our needs, nor with economic fluctuations. This provincial funding will begin to make a difference, but we still have a long way to go to ensure an adequate supply and good quality housing in our fast-growing communities. We will continue to work with both levels of government to reverse a crisis that has become a monumental challenge,” commented Terry Teegee, Regional Chief, British Columbia Assembly of First Nations.

“The housing situation facing Indigenous peoples in British Columbia is unacceptable,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “Through these new homes, we are working together with First Nations, the Aboriginal Housing Management Association and Indigenous housing providers to take an important step toward addressing this critical need in every corner of the province.”

BC Housing will work with Indigenous non-profit housing providers and First Nations to finalize the projects over the next few months. A second proposal call is anticipated for spring 2020.



editor@quesnelobserver.com

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