Work begins on 28-unit affordable rental building at Tsawout First Nation

Construction is starting on a five-storey rental building on Tsawout First Nation land in Central Saanich.

The 28-unit building is expected to be ready for tenants in spring 2023.

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The Tsawout First Nation, B.C. Housing and the Salish Sea Housing Society are partnering in the project, designed to offer affordable rents and suit the needs of working families.

“There are many jobs opening up right now, but without an affordable place to live, it is harder for people to access these jobs,” Tsawout Chief Harvey Underwood said Monday,

He said the development will be built to high environmental energy standards, which fits into First Nations values.

Ron Rice, chair of the Salish Sea Housing Society, said the society identified a strong need for workforce housing on traditional W̱SÁNEĆ territory and it “embarked on a mission to fill this gap in housing options.”

The building will have 24 two-bedroom units, three three-bedroom units and one fully accessible suite.

Amenities include dish­washers and washer/dryer hookups in each unit. A common laundry facility, storage lockers, bike storage, covered parking and internet access are also included.

“Reflecting the desire to create community among residents, there will be a playground and a communal space for barbecuing and gatherings,” the province said in a statement.

Rents will be well below market rates at about $655 for a two-bedroom unit and $750 for a three-bedroom.

The province is contributing a grant of $5.6 million through the Building B.C.: Indigenous Housing Fund.

The Indigenous Housing Fund is a 10-year, $550-million investment to build and operate 1,750 new homes, on and off reserve. B.C. was the first province in Canada to invest provincial housing funds into on-reserve housing, which is a federal responsibility.

“This project will help working people in Saanich stay connected to their culture, ­communities and families,” said Lana Popham, MLA for Saanich South.

“We will continue to work in partnership with First Nations and Indigenous housing partners to deliver more much-needed affordable housing, both on and off reserve.”

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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