First Nation, Manitoba and feds team up on rental project for Indigenous students

Click to play video: 'Groundbreaking ceremony takes place in Winnipeg for new affordable housing project'
Groundbreaking ceremony takes place in Winnipeg for new affordable housing project
Minister of Northern Affairs, Dan Vandal, spoke on Wednesday following the groundbreaking ceremony for an affordable housing development project at the University of Winnipeg. Vandal pointed out that the location of the 69-unit building is key, because "economic development, education, and housing are all intrinsically linked." – Jan 11, 2023

An apartment complex slated to open next year in Winnipeg is to provide First Nations students who have moved off reserve an affordable place to live while they pursue post-secondary education.

The project is being spearheaded by the Opaskwayak Cree Nation in northern Manitoba, with funding from the federal and Manitoba governments.

The First Nation will own and operate the seven-storey apartment building downtown near the University of Winnipeg, which will include a mix of affordable living with more than 40 per cent of the rental units offered at a discounted rate.

A news release says several units are to be leased to First Nations students, as well as young families and elders.

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Click to play video: 'Calls for affordable housing in Winnipeg amid rising rent costs'
Calls for affordable housing in Winnipeg amid rising rent costs

The project is aimed at helping to address the shortage of affordable rentals in the city.

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The total cost of the project is more than $17 million, with $15.6 million coming from the federal government, $105,000 coming from Efficiency Manitoba, a Crown corporation, and $1.8 million from Opaskwayak Cree Nation.

“This building not only allows our Cree Nation to start capitalizing within the real estate market, (but it will also) 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,” Chief Sidney Ballantyne said in a statement Wednesday.

Construction crews at the site of the announced apartment complex. Jordan Pearn/Global News

Chief Ballantyne said lower rent will allow students to focus on their school work and career paths, “which, in turn, will allow them to continue to make successful contributions to not only Opaskwayak, but to the entire country.”

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The 69-unit building will replace four vacant, dilapidated homes that have been demolished.

“Every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home,” said Ahmed Hussen, federal minister of housing, and diversity and inclusion.

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

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