ARCHIVED - Cowichan Tribe Large-Scale Mold Remediation Project

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One of Canada's oldest communities, the tight-knit Cowichan Tribe of lower mainland British Columbia, faced a health crisis when they found mold in their homes.

The Cowichan Tribe — the largest First Nation in the province — has lived for more than 4,500 years in multi-family longhouses at the heart of the world`s largest temperate rainforest.

But when some members of the Cowichan Tribe became ill, their homes were condemned and torn down, and their community was devastated socially and spiritually.

Community leaders took action and entered into partnership with a number of federal agencies including Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) and Health Canada. The community, tasked with finding a comprehensive and lasting solution to the mold and moisture problems, developed a Mold Remediation Pilot Project.

It documented the size and scope of the problem, identified available resources, programs and services and brought partners together to resolve the community's mold problem.

Networking and partnering had an impact on the whole community from home owners and occupants to builders and renovators, housing administrators and inspectors. In all, the Cowichan effort was one of the most comprehensive residential mold study and abatement projects undertaken on reserve.

The techniques developed and the lessons learned in the Cowichan project are applicable to other First Nations with mold problems. More broadly, this project had the added benefit of contributing to public knowledge about construction and maintenance of safe and healthy homes.

The on-going success of this important initiative would not have been possible without strong community leadership and participation by community members, as well as federal funding and technical expertise.

CMHC provided direct support through a number of mechanisms to the Cowichan Tribe. Twenty-six units received direct lending support of $2.5 million and received annual subsidies under the On-Reserve Non-Profit Housing Program of approximately $100,000. In addition, CMHC support was provided to renovate units through the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program. For example, in 2001-2002, CMHC committed $143,000 for the renovation of 15 units.


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