Mobile homes headed to Fort Chipewyan to relieve housing shortage

Mobile homes headed to Fort Chipewyan to relieve housing shortage

Sixteen mobile homes are destined for the Northern Alberta community of Fort Chipewyan in an effort to address a shortage of housing in the community.

The Wood Buffalo Housing Development Corporation announced Wednesday it had reached an agreement with the province to deliver the trailers to the northern community.

Ed Shirran, an acting director with the corporation, said the first six homes will be delivered via the community's winter road in March, and the remaining 10 will be delivered by barge in the spring.

Another four trailers are expected to eventually go to the community of Conklin, about 150 kilometres south of Fort McMurray.

"There's a housing shortage in Fort Chipewyan and other rural areas," Shirran said. "There's overcrowding and people living with relatives."

The Wood Buffalo Housing Development Corporation already owns two single-family homes and a 12-unit seniors facility in Fort Chipewyan.

The trailer homes were originally used to house people displaced by the 2011 Slave Lake fire.

In September, the province announced it would send 65 mobile homes to Fort McMurray to help house people who lost their homes during the May wildfire. The wildfire destroyed over 2,400 homes and buildings.

Those mobile home rentals, priced at between $2,500 to $2,650 each, anticipated a high demand for three- and four-bedroom rental accommodations in Fort McMurray after the wildfire. However the program was shelved because of a lack of need.

Two residents who lost their homes during the wildfire told CBC News that those trailers were overpriced and they were better off finding market rentals anyway.

'Don't overcharge'

Mikisew Cree First Nation Chief Steve Courtoreille said he welcomes the mobile homes to the Fort Chipewyan community.

Courtoreille has called on the Wood Buffalo Housing Development Corporation and the province to address the lack of housing in the community in the past.

"It took the fire for them to hear our voices," Courtoreille said.

Courtoreille said he hopes the housing corporation doesn't make the same mistake as in Fort McMurray, charging high rents for the homes.

"If they try to do that here, it's going to sit empty." Courtoreille said. "Don't overcharge."

The Wood Buffalo Housing Development Corporation said it does not know how much it will cost to rent the trailers because it is still working out the details with the province.

Shirran said the prices will be below market rates. 

Follow David Thurton, CBC's Fort McMurray correspondent, on Facebook, Twitter or contact him via email.