Construction of new wellness centre in Ahousaht set to begin

Construction of Ahousaht First Nation’s new wellness centre has been at a stand-still for one year.

The project was brought to a halt last March due to COVID-19 restrictions but was recently resurrected. 

Since January, a crew of six Ahousaht members have been clearing the site, where the Ahousaht Indian Residential School used to stand. 

“When you are approaching Ahousaht [the wellness centre] is going to be forefront,” said John Caton, Maaqtusiis Hahoulthee Stewardship Society (MHSS) general manager and project lead.

Sitting high up on a rock with a small white-sand beach in front, “it’s going be to be totally visible to all boat traffic coming and going,” said Caton. 

Traditional art will cover the front of the timber-framed building, that will be constructed in the style of a long house.

Once rock blasting is done within the next week or two and the foundation is laid, “away we go,” said Caton.

Pending no hiccups relating to COVID-19, Caton said he hopes to hand over the keys to the new facility by mid-October.

Due to an increase in material costs, the project budget will be over the $2-million it was originally forecasted for. 

“We priced this all out a year and a half ago,” said Caton. “Material costs have gone way up. I don’t know what the percentage is yet, but I’m working on it and I’m going to need to go out and find those funds to complete the project.”

For the construction of the project, the nation purchased all of their own heavy equipment, such as an excavator, a dump truck, a loader, along with hand tools. 

“Our work force is equipped with the best of everything to accomplish this,” said Caton. “We then have the ability to move all of that over to another project in the territory.”

Other than specialty trades that will be sourced from outside of the community, around 80 per cent of the project will be constructed by an Ahousaht labour force.

“It’s a substantial opportunity for workers in Ahousaht,” said Caton. 

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