A house under construction in Dettah. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio
Construction of several homes has begun in Dettah as part of efforts to increase the housing supply in the community.
Arcan Construction is building eight single-family homes in Dettah and Ndılǫ as part of a Yellowknives Dene First Nation housing project. President Aaron Doyle said he expects the homes to be complete by the spring of 2024.
The Yellowknives Dene First Nation did not return requests for comment.
The federal government announced in May 2021 that the First Nation would receive $18.8 million to construct eight four-bedroom, two-bathroom homes, as well as 11 one-bedroom apartments. Edward Sangris, then the chief of Dettah, said at the time the project would create employment and training opportunities for the First Nation’s members.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation said construction began in 2022. While the project was initially expected to be complete this summer, the federal corporation said wildfires, rising interest rates, inflation, increasing construction costs, labour shortages and supply chain disruptions all caused delays.
CMHC said it is currently reassessing the completion date and working with the First Nation to “make sure that we have a positive outcome for the community of Dettah.”
The Yellowknives Dene First Nation currently maintains 77 housing units across its two communities, including 39 public housing units in Dettah and 32 in Ndılǫ. A handful of homes are market rental units.
According to a public housing newsletter published by the First Nation earlier this month, there were eight people on the wait list for housing in Dettah as of September 27 – and no vacancies. That newsletter stated 11 people were on the wait list in Ndılǫ and there was one vacancy in the community, which had already been allocated.
‘Go together like Lego’
Jim Beddome, president and chief executive officer of Calgary-based QB Building Solutions Inc, said the company is supplying prefabricated floor, wall and roof systems for the new homes in Dettah and Ndılǫ. Marco de Leo, vice president of operations, said he expects four homes currently under construction in Dettah will be completed by December.
Beddome and De Leo said their company is hoping to expand in the North and supply systems for more housing projects.
They said the pre-fabricated panels allow for quick and cost-efficient construction, saying they “go together like Lego.” They added their systems are also energy-efficient, use renewable and recycled materials, and can be installed in any climate.
“It’s easy and fast to put together but, at the end of the day, you have a good product,” De Leo said.
Housing NWT said it is separately constructing a modular duplex in Dettah for single tenants, which will add to the public housing stock in the community.
The territory housing agency said the duplex, which is being manufactured in Hay River, was designed in consultation with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation.
Housing NWT said the duplex will be complete before March 31 and set up in the community as soon as a site is developed.