A six-storey, 53-unit structure at 704 Main St. is being described as a community effort providing much-needed affordable, supported rental housing while also serving as a community space.
Opportunities Yukon (formerly Challenge Disability Resource Group) held its official grand opening of the Cornerstone Community Building at a noon ceremony July 20.
As the crowd of more than 100 was informed by numerous speakers, 45 of the 53 units are affordable rental homes for those with disabilities or in need of stable housing. Each already has tenants lined up and a waiting list is in place.
The other eight units in the building are condominiums being sold at market rates.
Employment and training support will also be provided out of the building. A medical room will help address health issues of residents. A cafe, retail, office, workshop space and lounge for gatherings are also features of the new structure.
“These homes will make an important impact on many,” Yukon MP Brendan Hanley said during his comments.
As tenant Tamara Perzan, who’s been involved with the project since the early days, put it: “Cornerstone has the capacity to achieve phenomenal things. Through personal experience with mobility issues and barriers through employment, I can say this will be a turning point for many people here in the Yukon.”
Throughout the ceremony, Opportunities Yukon executive director Jillian Hardie acknowledged the contributions of governments — including $15.1 million in funding from the federal government, $7.6 million from the territory and $1 million from the city — and many who helped make the vision for the building a reality.
While she has been working as the executive director for the non-profit for five years, she acknowledged her predecessor Rick Goodfellow as the person who built the foundation and did the research to help move the project forward.
“Thank you Rick, for instilling passion for housing, sharing your vision and laying the groundwork so we could be here today,” she said.
Among many others she also acknowledged the work of architect Tony Zedda in the design, noting the efforts to hear Opportunities Yukon’s vision throughout planning.
She highlighted the effort to reflect the Yukon in the building, down to the exterior colours – white, black and, on the balconies, pink. She noted the white of the walls represents snow, while the black around the windows, balconies as well as on the ground level represents the mountains of the territory. The pink on the bottom and side of the unit balconies represents fireweed.
Others involved in the multi-year effort to see the project come to fruition were also acknowledged with many emphasizing the benefits of such a multi-use building in the downtown.
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