The Canim Lake Band is on track to complete its new housing project by early summer.
Construction of four 500-sq.ft ‘tiny homes’ and one three-bedroom house began in August 2020 after the band’s capital manager Marty Dixon received a guarantee that Indigenous Services Canada would cover 70 per cent of the building costs. These homes aim to help alleviate the overcrowding in many band homes, Canim Lake Band capital assistant Deanna Christopher said.
The band first received verbal confirmation of the funds in April 2020 but waited for written confirmation in August before ordering building material, Christopher said. This pushed the project back later than planned, but she said they are excited to construct the first buildings at the Canim Lake Band since 2010.
“It’s been so long since we’ve had new housing,” Christopher said. “A lot of people are really excited I think.”
Construction is being led by band members with Three Feathers Construction, which is employing contractors from the community. The framing and roofs are all done, and Christopher has posted pictures of the progress to date on the band’s Facebook page. Currently, the crew is working on installing drywall, plumbing and electricity for the homes.
Despite some supply problems and delays from COVID-19, Christopher said she is “crossing her fingers” that they have the construction completed by the end of May. She praised Three Feathers Construction for the good work they’ve done despite the challenges presented by the pandemic.
For the community, Christopher said the new homes will help to reduce overcrowding and the high demand for housing on the band site. The ‘tiny homes’ are intended to be affordable residences for young single men and women to help spread out the population. The band now has 84 housing units for its 250 members who live on the reserve with an additional 350 members living off-reserve.
Should the ‘tiny homes’ be well received, Christopher said the band would like to construct more of them to further provide the community with adequate housing. There are also plans to try and make two of the homes energy efficient with solar panels as a way to test alternative forms of energy for the whole community. At the moment, natural gas lines stop at Forest Grove and that to power and residents use a mix of electricity, propane and wood or pellet stoves to power and heat their homes.
Once the homes are complete, residents will apply to the band’s housing manager who will then select the first occupants.