The federal government has announced $400,000 in funding for energy efficiency retrofitting of ʔaq̓am community housing during a press conference on Tuesday outside Cranbrook.
Amarjeet Sohi, the federal Minister of Natural Resources, made the announcement alongside Paul Lefebvre, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources; Michelle Mungall, the B.C. Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources; and Nasuʔkin Joe Pierre Jr., the chief of the ʔaq̓am community.
“Whether it’s upgrading mechanical systems or replacing windows, enhancing insulation for attics or foundations, or sealing doorframes, these improvements will make your homes more efficient, more comfortable, and more affordable,” said Sohi. “At the same time, this initiative provides opportunities for training and knowledge sharing and creating local jobs here in the community and tapping into that knowledge.”
Pierre, who was visibly emotional following Sohi’s announcement, said the funding is tied to basic requirements of life, such as food, water, shelter, safety and security and that it ties in with a community vision and values summarized as ka kniⱡwitiyaⱡa — Our Thinking.
“In our strategic plan, we talk about wanting to use energy differently, do things smarter and better and so if this announcement was happening a month ago, it would have been under buzzing lights,” said Pierre. “This building now, we’re in the process of changing to LED lights, our buildings, and so it is something that we want to be a part of in making those types of changes.”
The ʔaq̓am community has approximately 60 homes, and all but 11 of them have already been surveyed in terms of what each dwelling unit’s needs are to retrofit.
Mungall praised the funding announcement, noting that ʔaq̓am can lead by example for other communities across the province that are also striving for energy efficiency.
“This is exactly what our government wants to achieve through CleanBC,” Mungall said, “which is our economic and climate action plan and we’ve looked at how we can be a part of retrofitting buildings to make them more affordable, to make them more comfortable, to make them more energy efficient province wide.”
The Columbia Basin Trust also recently announced $2.9 million for First Nations housing in the Kootenay region — $469,000 of which is earmarked for ʔaq̓am.
The entirety of the CBT funding will create 43 new housing units, while improving and upgrading 88 existing units. ʔaq̓am is set to have one new unit built, while up to 62 units will receive upgrades.