Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Efficiency Manitoba, Federal Government invest in new apartment building in Winnipeg

A combined investment of over $17.4-million is being made to build a new apartment building in Winnipeg.

$15.6-million is from the federal government, through the National Housing Strategy’s National Housing Co-Investment Fund; $105-thousand through Efficiency Manitoba, a Crown Corporation; and $1.8-million from Opaskwayak Cree Nation.

OCN will own and operate the 7-storey, 69-unit apartment building with heated underground parking, located at 380 Young Street. OCN intends to lease a number of units for First Nations students who have moved off-reserve for post-secondary education, and this addresses a shortage of affordable rental units in Winnipeg.

Efficiency Manitoba is providing OCN $105-thousand in incentives to reduce the costs of incorporating multiple energy-saving measures throughout the construction process. “Undertaking these measures will result in anticipated annual electricity savings of nearly 190,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) and estimated annual bill savings of $9,500.” a news release from the province noted.

“This building not only allows our Cree Nation to start capitalizing within the real estate market, it will allow us a place in the city to house some of our own citizens who are leaving the north to begin their higher education journeys in the south. The lower rent would ease the financial stresses so that our sponsored students can focus on their school work and their career paths, which in turn, will allow them to continue to make successful contributions to not only Opaskwayak but to the entire country.” said Opaskwayak Cree Nation Chief Sidney Ballantyne in the news release.

“We are pleased to see the addition of this affordable, green housing initiative, giving members of Opaskwayak Cree Nation the opportunity to live, study and work in the heart of downtown Winnipeg. Our government supports continued investment in affordable housing so that all Manitoba families can have a safe place to call home. Through Efficiency Manitoba’s New Buildings Program, the Opaskwayak Cree Nation will receive support for technical guidance and financial incentives for this project. Energy models show this new build’s energy performance will be approximately 16 per cent better than what is required by the Manitoba Energy Code for Buildings – a noteworthy achievement. We are also eager to see the building receive Efficiency Manitoba’s Energy Efficient certification when it’s finished.” added Manitoba Minister of Families Rochelle Squires in the same release.

“It has been a pleasure working with Opaskwayak Cree Nation to deliver high quality, affordable housing in difficult times of rising interest and inflation rates. We’re proud to contribute to the solution to the nation-wide affordable housing crisis that is being felt by so many Canadians. We recognize the strength of facilitating partnerships that make affordable housing a reality, especially for Indigenous communities.” said Nigel Furgus, CEO of Paragon Design Build.

Federal Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion Ahmed Hussen said “Every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. By investing in affordable housing here in Winnipeg and across Canada, our government is providing more Canadians with access to affordable and quality homes in vibrant and welcoming communities. Thanks to today’s announcement, members of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation will have access to affordable housing while pursuing their educational goals. This is our government’s National Housing Strategy in action.”

Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs and Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada and CanNor added “Through important investments in affordable housing, our government is assisting those who need it most here in Winnipeg and in all corners of the country. These investments help create new jobs and stimulate the local economy, while providing access to safe, affordable homes for Winnipeggers.”

Construction is expected to take 18 months and should be complete in the summer of 2024.

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