PORT McNEILL—It’s been said it takes a village to raise a child.
North Island service organizations and businesses show the principal works just as well for housing the village’s seniors.
With a snip of the scissors, Joanne Lacasse of Port McNeill Rotary and Bill Velie of the Port McNeill Senior Housing Society cut the ribbon and officially dedicated six new housing units in a luncheon ceremony for supporters and guests last Wednesday.
The units, placed next to six existing homes on Town of Port McNeill property on Grenville Place, were provided and delivered through provincial grants.
But the work of installing, finishing and equipping the single-bedroom, apartment-style units was left to a multitude of local volunteers and businesses who provided in-kind services or steep pricing discounts.
Dave Nelson of Port McNeill Rotary took on the job of project manager after Rotary was approached for assistance by Velie and other members of the senior society, which raises money to provide support for senior housing.
Nelson enlisted a small battalion of North Island contractors, building-material suppliers and service organizations who all agreed to chip in everything from free use of equipment to donated or discounted supplies and labour to cash donations to offset expenses.
Most of the businesses and groups are based in Port McNeill, but businesses and contractors in Port Hardy and Sointula also contributed, and Port Hardy Rotary Club chipped in $4,000 from its annual radio auction proceeds.
“This was everyone in our community coming together and saying, ‘We’re gonna have a senior housing centre,’” Nelson said in a speech to guests following a lunch catered by Northern Lights Restaurant. “When I first looked into doing this, I was given project estimates of $850-$900,000. After I showed it to Stu, he said we should be able to do it for $500,000. And now, after all the contributions we’ve received from the community, I can tell you the cost to complete this project was $330,000.”
The units arrived at the site in early winter as little more than rectangular boxes. They have since been insulated, roofed, sided and equipped with appliances, cabinets and blinds. Four of the six units are occupied and the remaining two units are expected to be filled shortly, said Mayor Gerry Furney, who is also a member of the Senior Housing Society.