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Ninety-five new affordable homes coming for Squamish Nation members

CANADA, August 4 - Families, elders and youth of the Squamish Nation will soon have access to more affordable housing options with construction underway on 95 new rental homes on reserve land.

Ravi Kahlon, B.C.’s Minister of Housing; Susie Chant, MLA for North Vancouver-Lonsdale; Jonathan Wilkinson, MP for North Vancouver; Wilson Williams, spokesperson and General Councillor, Squamish Nation; and Donalene Rapada, CEO, Hiy̓ám̓ ta Sḵwx̱ wú7mesh Housing Society, have announced a combined investment of more than $15 million to fund the 95 new affordable homes. The project is expected to open in summer 2024.

“We are so grateful to our community partners, including the Hiy̓ám̓ ta Sḵwx̱ wú7mesh Housing Society, for working with us to provide the homes community members need,” Kahlon said. “Delivering more affordable housing through partnerships with Indigenous communities and organizations is an important part of our housing plan. These 95 new homes will play a key role in helping many elders, youth and families of Squamish Nation build good lives in and with their community.”

Located at 300 Khatsilano Rd., Capilano Indian Reserve No. 5, the four-storey building will include homes for independent elders, families and youth with a mix of studio and one-, two-, three- and five-bedroom units. Each unit will have access to a private outdoor space, providing residents with a connection to the outdoors. The building will feature two green spaces for use in ceremonies, storytelling, relaxation and meal sharing.

The project will be managed by Hiy̓ám̓ ta Sḵwx̱ wú7mesh Housing Society (also known as Hiy̓ám̓ Housing Society), a non-profit organization that develops and manages affordable housing for members of Squamish Nation. Through choices that promote a multi-generational approach to housing, it presents an opportunity to reimagine the traditional Squamish longhouse living practice that seeks to create a grounded living context of mutual support and learning opportunities.

The design is grounded in Squamish culture and traditional practices to create affordable housing that is culturally reflective of members. Elements of cedar will be incorporated within the building, as well as graphic Coast Salish elements on the balconies and an exterior feature wall that arose from community dialogue and workshops.

This project is part of a $19-billion housing investment by the B.C. government. Since 2017, the Province has more than 76,000 homes that have been delivered or are underway, including more than 900 homes in North Vancouver.

Quotes:

Sean Fraser, federal Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities –

“Local communities know their needs better than anyone else. Partnering with those on the ground helps to provide the most relevant housing options and helps to ensure the most successful outcomes. Thanks in particular to this partnership with Squamish Nation, we will be creating 95 new homes for members to not only have a safe and affordable place to call home, but also to comfortably practise their culture and traditions. This is an all-hands-on-deck approach that shows the federal government’s leadership with the National Housing Strategy is working.” 

Jonathan Wilkinson, MP for North Vancouver and federal Minister of Energy and Natural Resources –

“Members of Squamish Nation will soon have access to more safe and affordable housing that will also provide residents with culturally appropriate options to honour their traditions. The Chenkw Em̓út project will enable many more members of Squamish Nation to remain close to their families and friends, contributing to more fulfilling lives and adding to the well-being of their community. These kinds of projects can transform communities for generations to come.”

Patty Hajdu, federal Minister of Indigenous Services –

“Everyone deserves a safe place to call home. Affordable housing is the foundation of health, well-being and vibrant communities. Today’s investment will provide Squamish Nation with high-quality affordable housing which honours the Nation’s culture and traditions. Thanks to the leadership of our Squamish Nation partners, families will be able to count on 95 new homes.”

Bowinn Ma, MLA for North Vancouver-Lonsdale –

“This housing project was among the first on-reserve projects ever funded by a provincial government in Canada. Our government is proud to be stepping up into this space and working with Indigenous communities on building housing in their communities. We look forward to continue to promote housing rooted in the traditions of Squamish Nation, at rates that youth, families and elders in the community can afford.”

Susie Chant, MLA for North Vancouver-Seymour –

“This project is a great example of all levels of government working with the non-profit housing sector to build the kind of safe, affordable housing that elders, youth and families in Squamish Nation need. More Squamish Nation members will soon have the peace of mind that comes with having a reasonably priced, secure home.”

Donalene Rapada, CEO, Hiy̓ám̓ ta Sḵwx̱ wú7mesh Housing Society, also known as Hiy̓ám̓ Housing Society –

“These affordable units are in very high demand from our members. Everyone is excited about this housing development. The concept of this building is to go back to our long-ago traditions of longhouse living. We want to create a community that fosters intergenerational living where youth can learn from elders through storytelling.”

Quick Facts:

  • The Province, through BC Housing, is providing a grant of approximately $10.7 million to the project through its Building BC: Community Housing Fund.
  • The federal government, through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, is providing $4.3 million through the National Housing Co-Investment Fund.
  • Indigenous Services Canada is providing $965,000.
  • The Hiy̓ ám̓ ta Sḵwx̱ wú7mesh Housing Society is providing equity funding of $100,000.
  • Squamish Nation is leasing the land for the project to the Hiy̓ ám̓ ta Sḵwx̱ wú7mesh Housing Society.
  • The leasehold interest on the land is estimated to be $4.75 million.

Learn More:

To learn more about government’s new Homes for People action plan, visit:
https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2023HOUS0019-000436

To learn about the steps the Province is taking to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes for British Columbians, visit:
https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/housing

To find out about the National Housing Strategy, visit:
www.placetocallhome.ca