WFN housing upgrade grants announced

The federal government is giving the WFN $102,000 over two years for retrofits.

Westbank First Nation chief Robert Louie (right) shares a laugh with local Conservative MPs Stockwell Day (left) and Ron Cannan following a press conference on Wednesday to announce the federal government will grant the WFN $102

The federal government is giving the Westbank First Nation $102,000 over two years to help improve living conditions for some of its members whose homes are located on its two Westside reserves.

Outgoing MP Stockwell Day made the announcement Wednesday, saying the money was part of $5.3 million that Ottawa will provide to help renovate and retrofit 460 housing units on reserves across B.C.

“Today’s investment will provide quality, affordable housing while creating jobs and stimulating the economy,” said Day.

The local MP announced last weekend he will not run for re-election in the next federal election. Pending the outcome of the vote to approve next week’s federal budget—a vote that could prompt the next election— this funding announcement could be one of his last as an MP.

Following the announcement, Day said helping constituents will be one of the parts of his job that he will miss the most when he leaves politics.

WFN Chief Robert Louie said the retrofitting of the 18 homes on the reserves, as well as previous funding over the last year for similar projects, is another step towards addressing the long-standing housing needs of his band.

“These projects represent major life changes for families here on reserve,” said Louie.

The grant money can be used for such home renovation projects as installing new windows, roofs and repairs, as well as retrofitting some homes to be more energy efficient.

One WFN member who hopes to have a new roof put on her home—a house she is currently buying from the WFN—is Dorris Alexander.

Alexander agreed grants such as this latest federal contribution will help improve living conditions for band members and that they are badly needed.

Day said the B.C. program is part of a larger national program that was oversubscribed shortly after it was announced. The money is being provided through the government Economic Action Plan.

Day praised the WFN as being very organized when it came to applying for the grants, something that made  his job easier lobbying on the band’s behalf for the funding.

The money for 49 First Nation communities in B.C., including the WFN, will be made available over the next two years.