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Posted: February 5, 2021

Chief Agnes McCoy Centre opening celebrated

A small celebration was held for a great feat this morning in Cranbrook.

Officials with Aqanttanam Housing Society, the City of Cranbrook, Columbia Basin Trust, the Aboriginal Housing Management Association along with contractors and project backers gathered for a soft opening and ribbon cutting of the Chief Agnes McCoy Centre.

A view of the back of the Chief Agnes McCoy Centre.

Located at 520 B Hurry Ave. N.W., the Chief Agnes McCoy Centre provides 39 new homes for Indigenous families, elders and individuals. The three-storey wood-frame building provides one, two-and three-bedroom homes with monthly rents ranging from $555 (one bedroom) to $838 (three bedrooms). People moved into their new homes in January.

The building is named in honour of the late Agnes McCoy, an elected Chief and respected elder from ?aqam. Chief McCoy was also one of the founders of the Aqanttanam Housing Society, which operates the building.

“The Aqanttanam Housing Society board of directors and staff would like to express how proud we are with the new Chief Agnes McCoy Centre,” said Cecilia Teneese, executive director, Aqanttanam Housing Society. “The new centre will house Indigenous and non-Indigenous low-income and homeless individuals, couples and families needing affordable housing. Our Aqanttanam Housing Society mission statement is to provide suitable affordable housing for low-income households and the completion of Chief Agnes McCoy has helped us to achieve that.”

June Forsythe, past president of Aqanttanam Housing Society noted more than 15 local contractors and businesses were involved in the construction of the $8.77 million facility, which is already 98% occupied.

City of Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt said the new facility is helping alleviate the city’s housing crunch, noting Aqanttanam Housing Society is now “probably our biggest landlord in Cranbrook.

“The city has been experiencing a housing shortage for many years. Affordable housing and accommodation have been a large part of that shortage. We are very pleased and appreciative to the partners and stakeholders who have built this very nice complex serving that very need. We have worked on a number of projects with Aqanttanam Housing Society with great success.”

The province provided $7.8 million for the project through the Building BC: Indigenous Housing Fund, a 10-year, $550-million investment to build and operate 1,750 new homes, on- and off-reserve. With this commitment, B.C. became the first province in Canada to invest provincial housing funds into on-reserve housing, a federal jurisdiction. B.C. has also taken the unprecedented step of opening up all provincial housing programs to First Nations.

“These new homes will provide much-needed affordable housing, thanks to the partnership offered by urban Indigenous peoples and leadership demonstrated by the City of Cranbrook,” said David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing. “We will continue to work in partnership with Indigenous communities and municipalities to build affordable homes like these throughout the province, and we continue to call on the federal government to fulfil its responsibilities and match our funding to build even more much-needed housing for Indigenous peoples, both on- and off-reserve.”

“The new Chief Agnes McCoy Centre is giving Indigenous peoples with lower incomes or who are experiencing homelessness in Cranbrook access to a safe, affordable place to live, which is a vital necessity for everyone. I commend all those involved for stepping up and working together in partnership to make this project possible, a project that supports a better life for people and is a tangible example of reconciliation in action,” stated Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.

Katrine Conroy, Minister Responsible for the Columbia Basin Trust added, “We know that homes like these are crucial for Indigenous peoples in the community and throughout the region. I would like to thank all of the partners for their hard work to make sure Indigenous families, elders and individuals have an affordable place to call home.”

The Aqanttanam Housing Society provided the land valued at $520,000. The Columbia Basin Trust provided a $454,200 grant for the project.

“Affordable housing is a concern across the entire Columbia Basin, and it remains a priority for the trust to help communities increase local housing options. We are thrilled to see the results of the Aqanttanam Housing Society’s efforts, and all the partners involved, as together we are making a difference in the lives of people in Basin communities,” said Johnny Strilaeff, president and CEO, Columbia Basin Trust.

“The Chief Agnes McCoy Centre will make meaningful change in the lives of all of its future residents, while enhancing and fostering a broader sense of community for Indigenous peoples and the City of Cranbrook. AHMA would like to acknowledge the relentless dedication and hard work from the entire team at Aqanttanam Housing Society. This is an exciting initiative and a wonderful example of how AHMA members are leading the change for Indigenous housing across British Columbia. Through the delivery of culturally appropriate, safe and affordable housing, the Chief Agnes McCoy Centre will strengthen and empower the community,” said Margaret Pfoh, CEO, Aboriginal Management Housing Association.

Lead and above image: Taking part in this morning’s soft opening ribbon cutting at Aqanttanam Housing Society’s Chief Agnes McCoy Centre from left: Erinn Willoughby with Aqanttanam Housing Society (AHS), Mayor Lee Pratt, June Forsythe/AHS, Will Nixon on behalf of Columbia Basin Trust and Jenna Madsen with AHS. Note: All photograph participants removed face masks for the photo. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW photo


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