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New 32-unit housing project to ease shortage of homes for Cowichan Tribes

The 32-unit multi-family housing complex is the largest construction project the First Nation has ever tackled.

A mixed group of residents will soon move into the Cowichan Tribes’ new 32-unit multi-family housing project, the largest construction project the First Nation has ever tackled.

Finishing touches are being carried out on the modular project on Boys Road, designed to not only help address the housing shortage but to create a place where residents will support each other.

“I lift my hands up to the staff from our capital projects, sustainable housing, and Lalum’utul’ Smun’eem [children and families] departments for the thoughtfulness and collaboration that went into this project,” said acting chief administrative officer Cindy Daniels.

“Their work not only added to the much-needed on reserve housing stock for families, Elders and young people, but they also had the foresight to build in community amenities, including a teaching and multi-purpose space with a kitchen, as well as a playground, sport court, and public washroom facilities with a water fountain.”

The two-storey project consists of three buildings. Units consist of studios, and one- and two-bedroom homes.

It is opening nearly one year after originally planned. Similar to other construction projects these days, it was delayed by labour shortages and global supply chain issues for projects such as concrete, hand railings and energy meters.

Gina Warburton, acting director of capital projects and acting associate director of housing, said the community has been patient while waiting for the project.

Units will be split among housing department rentals and the children and families department who will offer units to support young mothers and youth who are aging out of care.

Life skills, supports, common areas for workshops and other activities are all planned. The aim is to build a community among residents.

The project’s budget was just over $8 million in a partnership between Cowichan Tribes and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. Tire Stewardship B.C. provided a $14,400 grant for a rubberized play surface.

The sport court, enclosed by a tall green fence, and adjacent playground will be open to all of the community, not just residents of the new development. That’s why a water fountain is going in and washroom facilities have been installed, said Lauren Miller, special project manager.

Most housing on the reserve is single-family. There is little multi-family to meet a range of needs. For example, some elders would like a smaller place to live, Miller said. Because the land is on a floodplain, the site was raised by four feet, she said.

The new buildings have an exterior of corrugated aluminum on the first floor topped by board and batten siding on the second floor.

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