Lil Michif Otipemisiwak family support worker Deani Stevenson (left) and vice-president Ellen Ahdemar tie Métis sashes onto shovels in advance of the Kikekyelc affordable housing project’s groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday.
The Singh Street site will see 31 homes built for elders and younger residents (ages 16 to 17) of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background.
The province provided $4.7 million for project, while the City of Kamloops contributed the land, valued at $420,000 and will also provide municipal fees and waivers in the amount of $80,000.
The Lil Michif Otipemisiwak (LMO) affordable rental housing development was expected to break ground last year at this time.
"We've been patiently waiting. We had hoped it would have been ready [and] we'd be having our opening ceremonies today [Thursday], but instead it's groundbreaking, which is an important start," LMO executive director Colleen Lucier told KTW.
According to Kaela Schramm of M'akola Development Services — which is managing the project — last spring was an inital projected groundbreaking identified when predevelopment activity began in 2016.
"Honestly, it just takes time to get through these different approval processes," Schramm said, noting the process can be complicated. "There are a lot of other projects vying for that valuable B.C. Housing time."
Lucier said she never lost confidence the project would get off the ground — it was just a matter of when.
"Working with B.C. Housing, there's a lot of different partners involved, so it was just a matter of everyone's timing," Lucier said.
Lining up various funders for the project, such as the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, took time to co-ordinate as well, Schramm said, adding the total project cost have been secured.
The project still hasn't received its building permit from the City of Kamloops, but Schramm described that as coming "any day now."
Once that's in place, work will be underway.
Construction on Kikekyelc is now expected to be complete within the next 12 to 16 months, Lucier said.
— This story was updated May 24 to add comments from Colleen Lucier and Kaela Schramm