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Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Nation drafts first phase of passive housing project

The housing project will have 96 residential units for low-income families.
Derek Venter Architectural Design photo An initial draft of proposed passive homes for Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw’s development project.

Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw First Nation (GNN) is working closely with Pathfinder Development on the initial stages of their new passive housing development project.

The nation has applied for project funding through BC Housing. BC Housing offers different funding pools for a variety of projects, one of which is Building BC: Indigenous Housing Fund. The province of BC has dedicated $550 million to the Indigenous Housing Fund over the next 10 years to “build and operate 1,750 new units of social housing both on- and off-reserve,” according to BC Housing’s website.

The nation is in the middle of a rezoning application for 8905 Park Drive to build roughly 96 multi-family residential units, according to Port Hardy’s Oct. 9 council report. The 18-acre lot will have passive homes adjacent to Rupert Street.

A passive home is a “rigorous, voluntary standard for energy efficiency in a building, which reduces the building’s ecological footprint. It results in ultra-low energy buildings that require little energy for space heating and cooling,” according to district reports.

Pathfinder Development has recently released first phase drafts proposing 12 low-income apartment rental buildings. The architectural design will also include an “aerial apparatus to the fire fleet,” the council report stated. According to Port Hardy Fire Rescue, an aerial apparatus will allow firefighters to access apartments using extending ladders from the fire trucks.

In a Sept. 25 council report, Pathfinder Development under GNN’s direction has committed to “decent and safe rental housing for eligible low-income families.”

GNN also has other interests in mind for the lot, dedicating 20 per cent of the property to commercial development. The zoning would allow for small scale food services like a coffee shop, small scale retail stores, professional services, personal services and assembly spaces.

If the zoning application goes through, the lot will have become a comprehensive development zone, CD-10, with conditions that no liquor or cannabis commercial developments be permitted.

The project is estimated to cost around $24 million. Site preparation is set to begin as soon as March 2019. The first public hearing on the project will happen Nov. 7 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Derek Venter Architectural Design photo Proposed apartment building layout for 8905 Park Drive.