Housing project cruising along
Work on the new Wahkaihganun Futures Corp. six-unit apartment complex being built on Eighth Street here is cruising along ahead of schedule, and should be open for tenants by the new year.
Site preparation started in early July, with construction beginning immediately after the building permit was issued in early August.
“The weather’s been on our side,” said contractor John DeGagne of DeGagne Construction Ltd., noting there were a couple hot days this past summer.
But he has a sizable crew which has been working hard, buildings materials have arrived on time, and right now work probably is a month ahead of schedule.
The complex is taking shape, with the exterior and interior walls up and a roof overhead.
DeGagne said Pryde’s Plumbing and Heating and M.L. Caron Electric currently are doing mechanical and electrical work, respectively.
Siding and windows were to arrive today. As well, landscaping work is being done within the next couple of weeks.
“We’re really concentrating on the outside because of the weather that we know is coming,” DeGagne said.
The completed apartments each will include front stairs, a living room, one or two bedrooms, a full bathroom, fully-equipped kitchen, stackable washer and dryer, air conditioning, a small (12’x10’) patio out the back, and a backyard.
DeGagne pointed out that between all the units, he’s put brick instead of double-walled construction so the sound from neighbouring apartments is minimal.
It’s also fireproof.
DeGagne said that as long as materials continue to arrive on time, construction should be done by early January.
He noted the project truly has been about “going local.”
“We’re 99 percent local,” DeGagne stressed. “We’re trying to keep the money in town—price is not everything, service is everything.”
In addition to subcontracting work to Pryde’s Plumbing and Heating and M.L. Caron Electric, materials have been bought locally from Lowes Lumber and North American Lumber.
Dennis Robinson has supplied the gravel while heavy equipment has come from Leon DeGagne and Belluz Rentals.
The project also has given a short-term boost to the local job market.
DeGagne has a crew of 19 local men working on-site while the total workers employed by the subcontractors likely amount to another 20 or more.
He added the town’s new Chief Building Official, Travis Rob, also has been good to work with and very accommodating.
Neil Kabel, manager of native housing for Wahkaihganun Futures Corp., said he was happy to see everything moving along smoothly.
“The progress is very good,” he remarked. “We’ve been blessed with good weather.”
Kabel said there’s no doubt the six-unit complex will have tenants once it opens.
Wahkaihganun currently is accepting applications for tenants, and already has received two.
The existing 10-unit complex, located at 237 Eighth St. W., already is full.
Kabel compared the 10-unit complex to an apartment building and the new six-unit one to condominiums, explaining the new complex is to house individuals, including the elderly, and single parents with one child.
The 10-unit complex is for families.
“Our biggest proportion of need is families,” Kabel said. “This is one and two bedrooms, so it’s more for a single person or a mom with a child or a dad with a child.”
He added this new complex will allow Wahkaihganun to help house a wider range of people who need their help.
For more information or to get an application, drop by 601 Mowat Ave., call 274-8530, fax 274-1661, or e-mail email@example.com
Wahkaihganun Futures Corp.’s mandate is to help address the need of providing safe, affordable housing for self-identified First Nations, Métis, Inuit, and non-status people.
It is a related company to the Fort Frances Native Urban Wahkaihganun Corp., with the same board of directors.
The latter was founded in 1986 as non-profit organization.