By Chris Pimentel
Two weeks after the Six Nations Economic Development Trust (SNEDT) deadline for approved projects passed trustees approved a $1.4 million Six Nations Public Works proposal that will enable a housing project to get started.
“The reality is, if we didn’t get this funding there was talk that we might have stopped the project altogether.” said Director of Public Works, Michael Montour.
Six Nations Public works had secured $1.42 million in funding from Canada Mortgage and Housing (CMHC) to building a five unit townhouse in Ohsweken.
But they didn’t have the money to build a road to it… or bring in utilities.
That is until the Six Nations Economic Development Trust (SNEDT) decided to forgo its deadline policy and approve the funds.
In early February the SNEDT announced there would be $1.5 million available for community investments in 2017.
On May 26th the SNEDT approved funding for just three projects worth a total of $43,050 and said the remaining funds would be deferred to 2018.
Less than two weeks later (on June 9th), Six Nations Public Works wrote a proposal to the trust asking for the remaining funds for an infrastructure project to service a 95 unit housing development on Fourth Line.
“I was looking online to see where we could get the funds and I saw the press release on the Economic Development website. So we met in house and discussed if we should write a proposal. I thought, what’s the worst they can say? No? So we wrote the proposal, and they approved it.” said Montour.
On June 28th the Advisory Committee, and the EDT approved the request for $1.4 million to put in a road and utilities to the subdivision that will see a five-unit, three bedroom townhouse completed by early 2018.
In a press release Montour said “We were in a situation where Housing had secured funds to build a 5 Unit Townhouse as the first phase of a future housing development, but we didn’t have the funds to get the road and utilities to it, this was a major issue and could have stopped any construction altogether”
Montour added that Public Works received the funding from CHMC before the infrastructure funding because of a hold up with Indigenous Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).
“We had two separate proposals, the CHMC approved there proposal before INAC did. We’re still waiting to hear back from INAC on the infrastructure proposal. There was talk about possibly putting down temporary roads, but that would’ve just driven up the costs,” said Montour.
Montour also added that CHMC proposal would not include any infrastructure. The investment by the EDT, will be used to service not only the 5-unit development with roads, water, sewage and hydro, but will also provide infrastructure for all 95 units planned for the development, which also includes a 20 unit seniors building, as well as the future site of the Six Nations Public Library and Archival Repository.
First Nation Engineering Services Limited has been tendered to oversee construction.
The $1.4 million will not cover the entire project according to Montour, but he says it’s a good start and it’s enough for the project to start.
“We still have around $700,000 left to pay for this project, but I would rather be $700,000 short than the $2.1 million we were before this got approved. We can get the rest of those funds through our reserve pools, and money we saved from other projects. Plus, in my experience the engineers’ quotes tend to be fluffy, so we normally have room to work with.” said Montour.
Going beyond the numbers, Montour said he is just happy to provide housing for members of Six Nations.
“This is why I got into this position to help people and serve the public. We have, over 1,000 people waiting for housing in this community and this is going to help that situation.” said Montour.
The three other projects that the EDT approved in 2017 were an update to the Six Nations Public Library boiler and a new air conditioning system, with the last update taking place in the 1980’s according to the SNEDT. The total cost of that project is $24,000.
Two Row on the Grand will participate in community building events, and cultural teaching as they paddle along the Grand River. The total cost of that project is $14,000.
Finally, Grand River Pow Wow Committee received $5,050 to pay travel and accommodation costs for “Head Staff” for the 2017 Pow Wow.
By Chris Pimentel