Feds announce $16 million to convert former Belleville Service Canada Office into Indigenous housing

Belleville’s Mayor Ellis and Chief Maracle joined Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Charles Sousa for the announcement and a tour of the building. – Photo via City of Belleville

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement Charles Sousa was in Belleville Thursday, Feb. 15 to announce an investment of nearly $16 million to create 38 new homes in Belleville.

The Belleville Affordable Housing Project will see the transformation of the second and third floors of a former Service Canada office into new homes intended primarily for Indigenous Peoples, specifically women and children escaping from violence. The facility is named Saganaska Place.

“This project is an excellent example of meaningful collaboration – something that is needed now more than ever,” said Mayor Neil Ellis. “As a city, we are proud to be home to such a unique and important facility.”

Among the 38 new units, 19 will be designated as affordable, with eight of them fully accessible. The ground floor of the building will be repurposed to serve as a culturally relevant communal space for tenants, with the entire structure already meeting accessibility standards.

Situated at 1 North Front Street, the conversion initiative commenced in February 2023 and is slated for completion by March 2024. This endeavour is a product of collaborative efforts between three Indigenous First Nations groups – Missanabie Cree First Nation, Garden River First Nation, and Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte – and Summers and Co. Developments Inc. The collaboration aims to provide not only housing, but also support services to future residents.

“Recognizing the critical need for Indigenous housing both on and off reserve, the Tyendinaga Mohawk Council is committed to creating as many housing opportunities for our membership as possible to help address our growing waiting list for housing,” said Chief R. Donald Maracle of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte.

Maracle explained that Saganaska Place is the first project that will provide opportunities that directly support members living off the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.

“We value the partnership we have formed with Garden River First Nation, Missanabie Cree First Nation, and Summers&Co. Development Inc, and greatly appreciated the funding contribution from CMHC which made this project a reality,” he continued. “Together we have created something truly special and unique, and we look forward to working together for Saganaska and the potential for new opportunities.”

Funding is facilitated through various channels, primarily the Government of Canada’s Affordable Housing Fund (AHF), a pivotal component of the National Housing Strategy (NHS). Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), the former owner of the property, is transferring ownership to the community via the Federal Lands Initiative (FLI). The FLI, in line with its objectives to promote affordable, sustainable, and socially inclusive housing, is allocating $200 million over ten years to facilitate the transfer of surplus federal properties at discounted or no cost to eligible proponents.

The financial breakdown for the Belleville Affordable Housing Project is as follows:

  • $11.5 million from the Affordable Housing Fund (AHF)
  • $4 million under the Federal Lands Initiative (FLI)
  • $127,600 in SEED funding
  • $1,065,000 in Cash Equity and $212,750 in Land Equity from Belleville Affordable Housing L.P.

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