The sounds of heavy equipment and nail guns can be heard every day throughout the community as new roads, new houses and a new school near completion.
Near the Holistic Centre stands a brand new red rancher very near completion. The 1,200 sq.ft. home has been long awaited by elder Shirley John.
Past the new, nearly finished high school, overlooking the inner harbor, are three nearly finished homes. One house will belong to Louie and Sal Frank, one is for Kanopit, Chief Rocky Titian, and the third will go to Chief Councilor John O. Frank and his wife Gloria Jean.
Over on Lot #363, Ahousaht’s new expansion to reserves, a new road links the old community to the new. More than 60 properly graded and serviced lots wait for construction to begin.
Fourteen prime lots front the beach overlooking Catface Mountain through a thin line of old growth forest. Five of those lots have already been allocated to band members.
Construction on new homes at Lot #363 is expected to begin before the end of summer.
Construction Manager Jerry Boyko said new housing will be built using insulated concrete form construction. A pump house has been installed for water and sewage service to the lots.
Boyco said there is a considerable cost savings when it comes to building on a newly developed subdivision as opposed to rebuilding here and there throughout the community on old housing sites.
In order to build a home on the new subdivision, band members must first gain financing from a bank. With financing in place, homeowner hopefuls approach the housing committee who will allow them to select a building lot once all approvals are in place. The next step is to select a home design that fits their budget.
“We want people to build (their houses) themselves and we’ll help manage it, help them get the mortgage for what they can afford,” he explained.
Chief Councilor John O. Frank said grants of $40,000 each are being made available to members willing and able to apply for a mortgage and purchase their new homes. The band is working with the Bank of Montreal and the Royal Bank of Canada to help band members through the mortgage process.
In the day and age of no more ‘free’ homes from INAC, Frank said members will have to purchase their own homes, but with that comes pride of ownership, which, he said, is a good thing.
Five grants have already been allocated to band members. Frank was pleased to see that a man, age 20, and his young family were approved for a mortgage and will be building their new home on the subdivision.
Back at the school, Construction Manager Greg Louie, said construction on the new high school is on budget with a grand opening scheduled for Sept. 15, just over a week after the official start of the school year.
Finishing touches are being added to the school while landscaping is ongoing. The new school is attached by a covered walkway to the old school, which will serve the elementary school-age children.
A state-of-the art P.A. system has been installed where announcements can be broadcast throughout both schools simultaneously.
Louie is proud to say that lumber for the new school was milled in Ahousaht using wood from Ahousaht land, and, 80 per cent of the work force is Ahousaht members.
“Our people are learning valuable skills,” said Louie. He noted that two young Ahousaht men, Tom Paul Jr. and Robby Frank, spent two weeks away learning cabinet making.
“All of the cabinets in the new school, they had a hand in making them,” said Louie.
Plans for the old school include renovations as well as seismic, window and fire system upgrades.
By Denise Titian