B.C., federal government support new homes for Indigenous people in Courtenay
Indigenous Elders, individuals and people living with disabilities with low to moderate incomes will soon have access to 40 new affordable homes in Courtenay.
“We are so grateful to our community partners, including the Wachiay Friendship Centre Society, for making sure that we provide the homes community members need,” said Ravi Kahlon, B.C. Minister of Housing. “Delivering more affordable housing through partnerships with Indigenous communities and organizations is a core part of our housing plan. These 40 new homes will be instrumental for m any individuals and families, helping them build good lives in and with their community.”
Located at 1679 McPhee Ave., Naut’sa mawt (meaning “together as one”) will be a five-storey building featuring a mix of studio and one-bedroom homes close to amenities, such as the Wachiay Friendship Centre, public transit, a community centre and commercial services. Construction will soon be underway and is expected to be completed in late 2024.
With a combined investment of more than $10.4 million, the project is in partnership between federal, provincial and local governments, and community partners.
“No relationship is more important to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples,” said Ahmed Hussen, federal Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion. “The 40 new affordable homes being built right here in Courtenay will meet the pressing need for affordable housing within this community. Through similar investments, like the one announced here today, we’re working hard to build strong, healthy communities and improve the quality of life for those most in need. This is the National Housing Strategy in action.”
Wachiay Friendship Centre Society (WFCS) will own the building and will provide culturally appropriate and relevant programming and supports for their clients, including a gathering space for residents to host cultural events, such as feasts and storytelling. M’akola Housing Society will provide operational services through a mentorship agreement with WFCS.
The WFCS is a non-profit organization that provides services to more than 7,000 urban-dwelling Indigenous people in the region. The organization delivers more than 50 programs and services to Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
“It has been a dream of the Wachiay Friendship Centre Society to create affordable housing for over 20 years,” said Monica Goodheart, president of the WFCS. “Through the hard work of the staff and board of the Wachiay Friendship Centre Society, it is now happening. Wachiay is very proud to be able to provide even more support to the community we all love.”
Funding provided for the project:
- The Province, through BC Housing, is contributing $4.5 million through the Building BC: Community Housing Fund; $2.7 million through a grant to address cost pressures; and an annual operating subsidy that is being finalized.
- The federal government, through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), is providing $2 million through its Co-Investment Fund.
The Comox Valley Regional District is providing $260,000 through a homelessness supports service grant.
- The City of Courtenay is providing a fee exemption of almost $90,000.
- The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is providing a grant of $25,000.
- Wachiay Friendship Centre Society is contributing the land, valued at approximately $878,000 and $5,000, toward the project.
The project is part of a $19-billion housing investment by the B.C. government. Since 2017, the Province has delivered more than 74,000 new homes that have been completed or are underway, including nearly 230 homes in Courtenay.
Taleeb Noormohamed, MP for Vancouver-Granville —
“Thanks to this partnership, residents of Courtenay will have access to safe and affordable homes. Indigenous Elders provide invaluable contributions to their communities. Making sure that they have safe and affordable homes is one way to give back to them. The Naut’sa mawt project will enable members of Courtenay to remain close to their families and friends, lead fulfilling lives and contribute to the well-being of their communities.”
Ronna-Rae Leonard, MLA for Courtenay-Comox —
“We are pleased to begin another much-needed affordable housing project in the community. Indigenous Elders, families and people living with disabilities will soon enjoy these new homes close to their family and friends. We look forward to seeing the new homes stand where people can live safely and worry-free close to their community.”
Bob Wells, mayor, Courtenay —
“It’s so great to see this project moving forward in Courtenay with the construction of this affordable and culturally appropriate housing for Indigenous people in our region and with the collaboration with the Wachiay Friendship Centre Society and M’akola Housing Society. The Province is making significant efforts to tackle the housing crisis in British Columbia. The City of Courtenay is excited for this much-needed investment in our community and pleased to provide our support.”
To learn about the steps the Province is taking to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes for British Columbians, visit: https://workingforyou.gov.bc.ca/
To learn about B.C.’s Homes for People plan, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2023HOUS0019-000436
A map showing the location of all announced provincially funded housing projects in BC is available online: https://www.bchousing.org/homes-for-BC
As Canada’s authority on housing, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) contributes to the stability of the housing market and financial system, provides support for Canadians in housing need, and offers unbiased housing research and advice to all levels of Canadian government, consumers and the housing industry: https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/
CMHC’s aim is that by 2030, everyone in Canada has a home they can afford and that meets their needs – follow CMHC on:
To find out about the National Housing Strategy, visit: www.placetocallhome.ca
A backgrounder follows.