N.W.T. housing minister to hear Tsiigehtchic's housing authority proposal

Tsiigehtchic, N.W.T., may be on the way to managing its own local housing.

MLA says it’s time for the community to take the reins on housing

The N.W.T. housing minister will visit Tsiigehtchic to consider a local housing authority. Currently, Tsiigehtchic housing is managed by the Inuvik Housing Authority. (David Thurton/CBC)

A Tsiigehtchic, N.W.T., housing authority is closer to becoming a reality.

During Friday's sitting of the N.W.T. Legislature, Mackenzie Delta MLA Frederick Blake Jr. asked the territorial government to help develop a local board of directors to manage housing in the community.

"Leaders in the community — the chief and mayor and also the president of the designated Gwich'in organization ... they would like to see a housing authority in Tsiigehtchic," he said.

"A board actually set up in the community with members from the community to make decisions that are needed in the community."

Frederick Blake Jr. in the Legislative Assembly Feb. 25. (CBC)

Blake highlighted the frustration his constituents face when it comes to housing, such as the spread of mould and a lack of heating in some old units, and long wait lists for families to move into new units.

Local lacking last time   

Currently, Tsiigehtchic residents have to apply for a housing unit through the Inuvik Housing Authority.

Caroline Cochrane, the minister responsible for the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation, agreed there is a need for services within the community, but at the same time she said she's been down that road before.

"The difficulty has been the board," she said, expanding on issues she had while visiting the community during her time with the Centre for Northern Families in 2013.  

"Out of those people in attendance, only one person actually stated that they wanted a board at that time ... We also put out a call for board members and we didn't get enough interest.

"[But] that was almost five years ago, so it's time to do another one."

Grace Blake, the president of the Gwichya Gwich'in Council, said community members have historically been uncomfortable expressing their concerns to territorial government officials, but things are changing.

"There are people interested," Grace Blake said.

"I work for the land-claim organization in Tsiigehtchic and that's where people express themselves to me. So I'm sure we can get enough names to start up an association."

On Friday, Cochrane said she would visit Tsiigehtchic at the end of March.