North

It's going to be a busy construction year, says N.W.T. Housing Corp.

The N.W.T. has about $43 million in its capital plan for housing across the N.W.T. for new construction or retrofits of existing units.

'I think we are going to be a big part of restarting the economy,' says Tom Williams

Northwest Territories Housing Corporation president Tom Williams says housing money could help kickstart an economy struggling under the COVID-19 pandemic. (CBC)

With about 188 families on the housing waiting list in the Beaufort Delta region, the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation wants to get as much housing built as possible, and a partnership with the Inuvialuit Development Corporation (IDC) is helping.

Tom Williams, president of the housing corporation, said the region has been very active compared to the rest of the N.W.T. in "replenishing" inventory.

He said the IDC has been receiving direct funding to build housing.

"They build the units and turn them over to us for a dollar," Williams said. "It really accelerated our delivery. Thirty-four units in three years."

We are going to put people to work.- Tom Williams, NWT Housing Corporation president

The IDC is the economic development arm of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC), the region's land claim organization.

Williams said the IDC builds the units through Nappaq Design and Construction Ltd., an Inuvialuit construction company, on behalf of the housing corporation. 

Williams said the IRC received federal funding under an Indigenous based housing fund through Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

"It's very important. It helps us accelerate. It's new money on the table," Williams said. "Unfortunately the only Indigenous government [in the N.W.T.]  that received the direct funding was the Inuvialuit."

Williams said in the past three years, IDC has built or nearly completed three units — a fourplex in 2018, a duplex in 2019 and a triplex expected to be finished in July.

Williams said the housing corporation is lobbying to make sure other N.W.T. Indigenous governments get funding to build housing.

Elsewhere in the region

In Tuktoyaktuk, where there are 28 families on a wait list, Williams said the housing corporation has a few of their own construction projects for this summer.

The department is retrofitting three public housing units and they will be building a new home-ownership unit.

A triplex under construction in Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., expected to be finished in July. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

"Introducing these units would have a direct impact on decreasing the waiting list in Tuk," said Williams.

There will also be two public housing retrofits in Aklavik, Fort McPherson and Inuvik. He said there's a total of 20 housing units and home ownership units to be constructed and repaired this summer in the Beaufort Delta, and 17 market units going into Inuvik.

Williams said nine units will be built for the RCMP this year, and eight will be built next year. That won't impact the waiting list but will free up current RCMP housing.

Williams said the N.W.T. has about $43 million in its capital plan for housing across the N.W.T. for new construction or retrofits of existing units.

He said 94 per cent of the homes are built by northern contractors.

"With this COVID[-19] regime that we've been under it's been challenging … but I think we are going to be a big part of restarting the economy," said Williams.

"It's going to be a busy construction year ... we are going to put people to work."

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