A focus on well-kept, energy-efficient homes

First Nations in the Basin upgrade and add affordable rental housing

2 minute read

Since the Trust’s First Nations Housing Sustainability Initiative launched in 2017, First Nations communities in the Basin have made huge advances when it comes to creating and upgrading homes to provide affordable rental housing units that are welcoming, safe and energy-efficient for tenants. This includes significant progress in the communities of:

  • Ɂaq̓am
  • ʔakisq̓nuk First Nation
  • yaqan nuʔkiy (Lower Kootenay Band)
  • Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqǂi ‘it 
    (Tobacco Plains Indian Band)
  • Shuswap Band

With Trust support, each community started by assessing its existing units, and then planning how to proceed with energy retrofits and health and safety repairs. Improvements have meant activities like adding roof insulation, updating ventilation systems and installing LED lighting. The communities have also constructed many new units, creating more space for members to call home. In addition, many of the newer homes have gained solar panels to reduce utility costs and help maintain affordability.

Through such work, there are more affordable rental housing options overall, energy costs decrease and the quality of existing units rises—along with their lifespan. Best of all, tenants enjoy much more comfortable places to live.

“Repairing older homes is one step in ensuring that ʔakisq̓nuk First Nation members can access adequate, suitable and affordable housing. Given the age of homes and deferred maintenance, however, there is still much to be done. You sometimes need to step back and reflect on what has been accomplished: many homes are now safer and warmer. That is a good start.”
– Dale Shudra, Housing Manager, ʔakisq̓nuk First Nation

“The affordable housing repairs and upgrades in the community may on the most part not be visibly seen, but actually physically felt. This project affects all members, and has made a huge impact on daily living for community members. As one Lower Kootenay Band member described their feeling on the renovations, ‘My house now feels like a home.’ I think that says it all!”
– Debbie Edge-Partington, Housing Coordinator, yaqan nuʔkiy

“I am most proud of the community members that participated in the health and safety, structural and energy-efficiency inspections; these will allow the housing department to apply for the funding necessary to bring the homes back to good standards. Also, a grant from the Trust allowed Shuswap Band to install solar panels on 13 units; tenants are seeing a substantial decrease in their electricity bills.”
– Dolores Nicholas, Social Development/Housing/Cultural Manager, Shuswap Band

“Affordable housing is not just about ensuring a roof over people’s heads, it is about ensuring everyone has a place they can feel safe, secure and at home. The much-needed repairs and upgrades to affordable housing units in our community mean residents can better enjoy the security that affordable housing offers. Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqǂi ‘it First Nation and our entire community appreciate the support from Columbia Basin Trust to pursue this important work.”
– Nasuʔkin Heidi Gravelle, Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqǂi ‘it  First Nation

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