CMHC and Seabird Island First Nation
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Partners in Sustainability
Seabird Island First Nation of British Columbia has taken their respect for the environment to new levels through a bold approach that helped them build seven new environmentally-friendly housing units in their community.
After a great deal of experimentation, Seabird Island residents are now benefiting from new housing units in four buildings: one triplex, one duplex and two single-detached homes.
It was important to Seabird Island that their new homes not suffer the same premature deterioration so prevalent in many First Nations communities.
Seabird Island First Nation knew they couldn't do this alone, so they partnered with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and others to ensure a successful, sustainable housing complex.
The community used FlexHousing™ design principles to accommodate the changing lifestyle and lifecycle needs of its residents, so that occupants could live in their homes longer. For example, the bathrooms, doorways, hallways and kitchens are adaptable to the changing needs of occupants through various stages of life. The flexible size and functionality of the rooms are also adaptable to changing family needs.
To ensure their housing has a 50- to 100-year life span, Seabird Island residents used innovative materials and building techniques. For example, they used steel roofing, concrete finish floors, mold-resistance gypsum board and special cladding on the exterior walls to compensate for the maritime climate and wind-driven rain.
This eco-friendly housing complex is at the vanguard of housing developments. Now the Seabird Island community actively promotes its environmentally-friendly housing design concepts, and shares test materials and techniques with other communities.
Not only has the Seabird Island housing project increased our knowledge about building environmentally-friendly homes, it has improved the skills and technical abilities of the Seabird Island people. The insights gained in this project will benefit other First Nations and contribute to home-building in general across Canada.
CMHC provided a direct loan of $690,000 and an annual On-Reserve Non-Provide Housing Program subsidy of $27,730 to the Seabird Island project for six units and one demonstration unit which was open to the public for a two-year period.
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