North

Colville Lake buys sawmill to build its own log homes

After switching to a solar power/diesel power hybrid system late last year, Colville Lake, N.W.T., is working on becoming even more self-reliant.

'If we get our building supply from the land, that will work in our best interest,' says David Codzi

The community of Colville Lake bought a portable sawmill in 2015 and has long-term plans to use it for building log homes. (submitted by David Codzi)

After switching to a solar power/diesel power hybrid system late last year, Colville Lake, N.W.T., is working on becoming even more self-reliant.

The community purchased a portable sawmill in 2015 from D&L Timber Technologies for around $50,000 and David Codzi, president of the Ayoni Keh Land Corporation and band officer, says they have long-term plans to use the sawmill for building log homes.

"We have an economy that's in Colville," he said.

"We don't have to keep spending money outside of Colville. We can spend it in. Once we start doing that we probably have more than enough money to spend on other things that we could build here."

Codzi estimates that log homes could cost upwards of $90,000 by the time all the lumber and materials were shipped to the community. Logs either had to be brought up the Mackenzie River or had to be de-barked, a process that takes a lot of time and money.

He said the sawmill will help offset those costs, build the economy by creating jobs and help the environment by shortening the supply line.

"We're an isolated community, we shouldn't always be tied to other things outside," said Codzi.

"If we don't get planes, we don't get no supplies and then we just go back to living on the land. If we get our building supply from the land that will work in our best interest."

Build your own house

The sawmill could also help with the problem of overcrowding in the community.

Codzi was living in a trailer but found it small so he moved in with his sister. Now he, along with members of the band, are experimenting with the sawmill to build a house.

Building his own log home will give Codzi the opportunity to make it exactly how he wants and have his own space.

"I want to see what works and what doesn't," he said.

"Over the long term I want to add solar panels to the house. We're always looking at things like that in Colville. The more we could get off the fuels is a plus," said Codzi.

He hopes to be in the home by August.

It's also hoped the sawmill will help build a new school and when they have the rest of the equipment they can do other houses.

"Colville Lake is kind of growing fast in the last couple of years, there are more children. Basically the population of Colville Lake is all young, so the need for bigger houses and more space is starting to be things we're all thinking about." 

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