Čitaapi Mahtii – Ahousaht affordable housing project provides job training opportunities in Port Alberni | Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper

Čitaapi Mahtii – Ahousaht affordable housing project provides job training opportunities in Port Alberni

Port Alberni, BC

Ahousaht’s new affordable housing project – čitaapi Mahtii is one step closer to groundbreaking as demolition of the old school building on site begins on the second week of May, 2023.

According to Ahousaht’s previous council, there are more than 500 registered members living in the city of Port Alberni. Many struggle to find affordable housing.

So, when BC Housing offered to support Ahousaht in creating an Indigenous housing development, the former Ahousaht council jumped at the opportunity.

The čitaapi Mahtii Housing Society, headed by President Wally Samuel selected a lot near the Glenwood Centre at 4210 Cedarwood Street. Formerly an elementary school, the building housed the Port Alberni Youth Centre.

Demolition of the old school building has begun and is expected to take about two months, according to Samuel.

Bowerman Construction was contracted to carry out the demolition, according to board member and liaison to the Project Consulting Team and čitaapi Mahtii Housing Society, Greg Louie.

“Bowerman was looking for five Ku-ous (Indigenous) guys to hire for the demolition but only three showed up and of those, two showed up consistently,” said Louie. He went on to say that while the demolition represents two months’ worth of work, it could mean long-term employment for the right individuals.

Bowerman offered training to the new hires and, according to Louie, if things work out, they could hire people for other jobs.

Louie expects demolition to be done by June 30 followed by a period finalizing architectural drawings and getting approvals and permits from the City of Port Alberni. He hopes groundbreaking for the new building will be taking place in late September or early October.

“We will be looking for employees during the construction,” said Louie. They can be experienced, or they could be willing to be trained. “We will need people for construction and for trades like electrical,” said Louie.

In addition, the building will feature Indigenous art inside and outside. Artists are invited to send conceptual drawings to Wally Samuel. His email address is wsamuel@telus.net.

When finished, the multi-purpose čitaapi Mahtii building will stand four stories high and will provide 35 units of affordable housing. In addition, it will have a gathering space for cultural activities.

Partners in the project are Ahousaht First Nation, CMHC and BC Housing.

To enquire about demolition jobs, please contact Bowerman Construction on site.

Island West Coast Development will be taking resumes for those interested in construction or trades jobs for the project. Please contact Tina Brooks for employment opportunities for this project at tina@iwcd.ca

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