Committed to ensuring housing is affordable, accessible and safe for Métis citizens in the province, the Manitoba Metis Federation broke ground last week on the Binscarth Métis Seniors Duplex.
Housing for seniors is important for many Métis citizens, said Manitoba Metis Federation Minister of Housing and Property Management Will Goodon, adding the new Binscarth Métis Seniors Affordable Housing Project helps ensure Binscarth is a complete community with space for seniors.
“We want our seniors to be able to live in safety and comfort. It’s the least we can do to give back to those who have given us so much,” Goodon said.
The Binscarth seniors housing project has been in the works for a number of years. The MMF had previously tried to purchase housing in Binscarth and the surrounding area, he said, but encountered roadblocks working with Manitoba Housing.
Goodon said he is relieved to have finally secured a place for seniors.
“We knew there was going to be an opportunity and there would be a lot of demand for the housing as soon we announced anything,” Goodon said. He added five people have already applied to rent the space.
This housing project will consist of two duplexes, for a total of four affordable seniors housing units. The units include a sunroom, deck, exterior storage shed, luxury vinyl flooring and high-efficiency appliances.
The housing is being constructed using a steel frame in place of wood to help prolong the life of the units. This decision was made because of the steel’s high fire rating and ability to ensure the housing is resistant to mould, termites and other pests.
Goodon added the builds are centred on ensuring the comfort of seniors. Functionalities have been included in the build, such as wide doors and hallways to accommodate wheelchairs, ramps for ease of access, bathroom holding bars, raised outlets so seniors do not have to bend down to plug in appliances, lower light switches to accommodate those in wheelchairs and kitchens adapted to those using wheelchairs or walkers.
“We’ve built in a lot of safety factors while making it very livable for our elders,” Goodon said.
Goodon said about three years ago the MMF began looking at funding to create housing for Métis citizens. A survey was sent across the province to assess community concerns. Support for seniors and affordable housing ranked at the top of survey responses.
These issues have been a focus of MMF since then.
“To be able to respond to our Métis citizens in the area of housing is something that we [take pride in],” Goodon said. “We’ve always had the need for housing but now we have the ability to do something about it.”
The Binscarth project will be funded under the Canada-Métis Nation Housing Sub-Accord signed in 2018.
Goodon said the MMF is proud of its relationship with Canada and hopes to continue to build the partnership into the future.
Moving forward, the MMF continues to expand affordable housing in Manitoba and has established a 10-year deal with the federal government to support this endeavour. Goodon said six years of funding remain.
The MMF has recently established homes in Portage la Prairie, held a groundbreaking in St. Ambroise for housing and built a six-plex in St. Boniface slated to open in November. Five homes in Selkirk are planned to be ready in the fall, and the MMF is in talks with Swan River regarding builds.
“There is a lot going on, and it is really exciting to be a part of,” Goodon said.
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Chelsea Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun