Housing: strings attached to grant

Shipping containers or nothing, council hears

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

New developments in government financial support for a proposed affordable housing project in Slave Lake put the local housing authority in an interesting position.

The message – received at a recent meeting in Edmonton – is now that only a certain type of construction is acceptable. Use it, or the $5.5 million in grants won’t be available.

Town councillor Julie Brandle, who is also the chair of the LSLRHA, said initially, the use of ‘sea can’ construction for the project was thought to be just one option.

The Edmonton meeting cleared that up; it’s now a condition. Use that or you can’t have the money, more or less.

The reason, she explained in a subsequent interview, seems to be that the sea can plan would result in less expensive operating costs for the envisioned apartment complex.

The province, as the one that will be covering those operational costs, is keen to go that route.

What the three members of the housing board also learned at the meeting was that the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is on board and has a million dollars to add to the province’s pledge of $4.5 million.

“It’s an ‘innovation grant,” she says, with part of it being contingent on built-in energy-efficiency, which apparently the sea-can format includes.

Brandle says the board members were given a tour of a complex in the city built on the same lines as what’s been proposed for Slave Lake. She says it was quite impressive, in that “looking at it, you would never know,” sea cans were at the heart of it.

The proposed site for the affordable housing complex is the old Fish & Wildlife property on 4th Ave. NE in Slave Lake.

At the time of this writing, the housing board had not met to discuss the latest developments. Brandle was not willing to speculate on what the outcome of that discussion would be, but she did imply that the $5.5 million on the table would be hard to resist.

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