A welcoming prayer, a solemn blessing by First Nations elders and a traditional drum ceremony celebrated the progress of an affordable rental housing development for aboriginal families on Wednesday in Langford.
Elders Elmer George from the Songhees First Nation, Maryanne Thomas from Esquimalt First Nation and Al Sam from the Tsartlip First Nation took part in the opening ceremonies, attended by about 100 people.
The estimated cost of the M’akola Development Services project at 550 Goldstream Ave. is $13.1 million and is expected to be completed by February 2016.
The development will include 30 two-bedroom and six three-bedroom units for aboriginal families and individuals in need of affordable housing.
The building will feature energy efficient appliances and fixtures, water-efficient landscaping and high-efficiency maintenance systems. The location will provide easy access to health services, schools, a community centre and recreation centre for residents.
It will also include the new provincial headquarters for M’akola Development Services and M’akola Housing Society in commercial space on the ground floor, a first for M’akola, said Kevin Albers, CEO of M’akola Group of Societies.
John Duncan, Member of Parliament for Vancouver Island North, said it was en exciting day for the community, and a great example of what can be accomplished through partnerships involving different levels of government. He praised Langford for its commitment to the project and congratulated Mayor Stew Young and Council for their efforts.
“Langford has done a great job of embracing social housing,” Duncan said.
B.C. Minister of Housing Rich Coleman said the project is another example of the great relationship the B.C. government has with the federal government in building affordable housing.
“It shows what can be done when people come together,” Coleman added.
Young echoed those comments regarding the importance of forging partnerships with senior levels of government.
“John Duncan and Rich Coleman have done a great job in recognizing the needs of our community,” Young said. “This project will add diversity, and diverse communities are the strongest.”
The project is a partnership involving M’akola Development Services, the federal and provincial governments and the City of Langford.
The B.C. government has made $6.3 million in construction financing available.
The federal and provincial governments are providing about $4.9 million through the Affordable Rental Housing Initiative, while M’akola Development Services will provide $1.9 million in equity.
The City of Langford has made $263,600 available through municipal grants and reductions.