Skip to content

Funding in place for Indigenous affordable housing project in Courtenay

The funding is officially in place for an Indigenous affordable housing project, to be built at 1679 McPhee Ave. in Courtenay.
A ground-breaking ceremony to celebrate the funding for the Naut’sa mawt Indigenous affordable housing project in Courtenay took place Friday morning (May 5). Photo via @GordJohns Twitter

The funding is officially in place for an Indigenous affordable housing project, to be built at 1679 McPhee Ave. in Courtenay.

Naut’sa mawt (meaning “together as one”) will be a five-storey building featuring a mix of studio and one-bedroom homes. Construction will soon be underway and is expected to be completed in late 2024.

On Friday, May 5, funding of more than $10.4 million was announced - a combined partnership between federal, provincial and local governments, and community partners.

The funding breakdown is as follows:

• The province, through BC Housing, is contributing $4.5 million through the Building BC: Community Housing Fund; $2.7 million through a grant to address cost pressures; and an annual operating subsidy that is being finalized.

• The federal government, through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), is providing $2 million through its Co-Investment Fund.

• The Comox Valley Regional District is providing $260,000 through a homelessness supports service grant.

• The City of Courtenay is providing a fee exemption of almost $90,000.

• The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is providing a grant of $25,000.

Wachiay Friendship Centre Society is contributing the land, valued at approximately $878,000 and $5,000, toward the project. The 40-unit project will house Indigenous Elders, individuals and people living with disabilities with low to moderate incomes.

Wachiay Friendship Centre Society (WFCS) will own the building and will provide culturally appropriate and relevant programming and supports for their clients, including a gathering space for residents to host cultural events, such as feasts and storytelling. M’akola Housing Society will provide operational services through a mentorship agreement with WFCS.

Friday’s funding announcement covers more than half the total estimated cost for the project.

“In the end, we will have a take-out mortgage of six or seven million,” said Wachiay’s program co-ordinator of homeless and housing programs, Roger Kishi. “The rents and the ongoing subsidy that BC Housing will be providing will cover it. At least that’s how it looks today. When we open the doors and move tenants in, we will see how things are, but so far, that’s the business case. It’s there and that will cover the costs of the building.”

Kishi said construction should begin within the next few weeks.

“We still have a few things we have to deal with the city. But basically, it’s between lawyers now. The funding has been approved, and we’ve got everything lined up now.”

“It’s so great to see this project moving forward in Courtenay with the construction of this affordable and culturally appropriate housing for Indigenous people in our region and with the collaboration with the Wachiay Friendship Centre Society and M’akola Housing Society,” said Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells. “The City of Courtenay is excited for this much-needed investment in our community and pleased to provide our support.”

Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard said Naut’sa mawt will help address the ongoing issue of affordable housing.

“We are pleased to begin another much-needed affordable housing project in the community,” she said. “Indigenous Elders, families and people living with disabilities will soon enjoy these new homes close to their family and friends. We look forward to seeing the new homes stand where people can live safely and worry-free close to their community.”

–With files from the Government of British Columbia

Terry Farrell

About the Author: Terry Farrell

Terry returned to Black Press in 2014, after seven years at a daily publication in Alberta. He brings 24 years of editorial experience to Comox Valley Record...
Read more