Affordable housing units planned for Whistle Bend

The Ta'an Kwach'an Council and its business arm are partnering with the Yukon government to build affordable housing units in the Whistle Bend subdivision.

The Ta’an Kwach’an Council and its business arm are partnering with the Yukon government to build affordable housing units in the Whistle Bend subdivision.

The Da Daghay Development Corporation is planning the construction of a 42-unit complex that will feature one- to three-bedroom apartments built to Super Green standards.

Ta’an citizens, as well as Yukon Housing Corporation clients, will live in the building, although it remains unknown how the tenant selection process will unfold.

Chief Kristina Kane said the project was a long time coming.

“The First Nation just had its general assembly over the weekend and that was one of the biggest priorities and concerns for our citizens,” she said at an announcement Thursday.

“It’s the first step in providing housing to all of our citizens.”

Stacey Hassard, the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation, said the project would improve the living conditions for a number of low-income Yukoners seeking affordable housing.

It will also create new employment and training opportunities for Ta’an citizens, he added.

Some of the units will be available to Yukon Housing clients who qualify for its rent supplement program.

To qualify, a family’s total household income must fall under $48,500 in Whitehorse.

Under the program, clients pay 25 per cent of their monthly income to the housing corporation, with the corporation topping up that amount to ensure the landlord receives the median rental rate – currently $950.

The program helps about 40 households a year in Whitehorse.

But it remains unclear how much Ta’an citizens, who will make up most of the residents in the complex, will pay to live there.

The total cost of the project is also unknown at this time, as well as who will foot the bill.

Ben Asquith, CEO of the development corporation, said the first step is to put out a request for proposals for the design of the building.

“We’re working out the details with Yukon Housing but they will contribute some funds towards the project,” he said.

Mary Cameron, acting vice-president of Yukon Housing, said project costs can’t be determined unless total square footage is known.

“Obviously with 42 units they have some idea,” she said, “but once they’ve narrowed down the exact design they can articulate costing better.”

NDP Opposition Leader Liz Hanson said she’s always in support of initiatives that will provide more affordable housing in the territory. But her issue lies with the lack of available financial information.

“That is sort of what we’ve been seeing as a constant theme with the Yukon Party over the last few months,” she said.

“There’s an announcement a week about more expenditures but it’s usually not defined, whether it’s the fibre-optic line (up the Dempster Highway) or the continuing care facility in Whistle Bend.

“I’m not quite sure what the purpose of that is – we call it the squirrel factor: it keeps the distraction going from what’s going on on the ground.”

The development corporation plans on applying for a tax break from the City of Whitehorse.

The City’s development incentive policy offers a maximum of $500,000 in tax incentives over 10 years if a building has at least 25 rental units. If the proponent qualifies, it’s also eligible to receive a one-time capital grant up to $500,000 from the Yukon government under its Municipal Matching Rental Construction Program.

The Ta’an Kwach’an Council is the second-largest landowner in Whitehorse, behind the Kwanlin Dun First Nation.

Construction of the complex is set to begin next spring.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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