Fixing leaking roofs, upgrading plumbing and installing functional furnaces are among the repairs and enhancements Nahanni Butte is tackling with new funding from the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation.
A 2019 report from the NWT Bureau of Statistics identifies Nahanni Butte, a community with fewer than 100 people, as having problems with at least half of its houses.
Steve Vital, Nahanni Butte’s newly-elected chief, said for some houses repairs have already begun.
Earlier this month, the Housing Corp. announced $50,000 for the community to conduct “emergency repairs.” Vital, who has identified improving infrastructure as one of his leadership priorities, said he hopes the money is enough to go around.
The funding comes through the NWTHC’s Community Housing Support program – an initiative developed to support Indigenous and community governments in acting on community-driven housing projects.
The Housing Corp has also granted $264,000 in funding from the same program for the Behdzi Ahda First Nation in Colville Lake to build four log homes. Chief Wilbert Kochon said the funding is “a long time coming.”
The same GNWT report identified Colville Lake as having the highest proportion of housing issues in the territory, with 90 per cent of their homes having problems of some kind.
The Housing Corp. funds will help with the purchase of housing materials. Community members are set to begin construction as soon as the temperatures are warm enough in the spring. Once the building begins, Kochon said it shouldn’t be long before the families can move into their new homes.
He said the demand for more housing is high and he’s pleased the log home project will provide jobs and training opportunities.
There are some “expert log builders” in the community already, Kochon said, adding “it will be nice to see lots of boys out there so they can build their skills and learn to build their own homes too.”
He said the funds will not be sufficient to cover all of the materials and labour required for the project but “it’s a good start.”
In a news release announcing the housing projects, Paulie Chinna, the minister responsible for the Housing Corp., called the affordable community housing projects “much needed.”
“Together, working in partnerships, we are able to address housing needs for our residents. I am pleased to have worked with the communities of Nahanni Butte and Colville Lake to develop much needed affordable housing and look forward to further partnerships that address core housing needs throughout the NWT,” Chinna said.