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Wednesday, 29 August 2012 16:16

Swift Current development provides affordable rental units

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Silver Sage Holdings Board Chair Edmund Bellegarde speaks during the official ribbon cutting for the new Silver Sage rental housing development in Swift Current, Aug. 24. Seated behind him are Swift Current Mayor Jerrod Schafer (at left) and Silver Sage General Manager Maynard Sonntag. Silver Sage Holdings Board Chair Edmund Bellegarde speaks during the official ribbon cutting for the new Silver Sage rental housing development in Swift Current, Aug. 24. Seated behind him are Swift Current Mayor Jerrod Schafer (at left) and Silver Sage General Manager Maynard Sonntag. Matthew Liebenberg/Prairie Post

Finding an affordable place to rent in Swift Current became a bit easier after the official opening of a new housing development.

 

A ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the Silver Sage rental housing development took place on Aug. 24.

The development, which is located at 755 1st Avenue West, consists of 22 townhouse style units. There are two two-bedroom and 20 three-bedroom suites. The total project cost of $4,6 million includes a $2.4 million contribution from the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation.

The remaining project funding was provided by Silver Sage Holdings Ltd., which is a non-profit housing organization incorporated in 1983 to provide well maintained and affordable rental units to First Nations people.

Silver Sage Holdings Board Chair and File Hills Qu'Appelle Tribal Council Chairperson Edmund Bellegarde said the development supports the organization's founding principle  to provide shelter to their First Nations members living off reserve.

“It’s certainly our focus and that’s the core of our mandate but through the program that the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation has we will be offering the units here to non First Nations family members in family units as well,” he mentioned.

He described the project as another indication of the positive impact that First Nations people have on the economy of Swift Current.

“This is a very proud day for us, because too many times we hear the negative, we hear the challenges, but today we’re here to celebrate quality housing,” he said.

Bellegarde mentioned that Silver Sage Holdings have invested close to $50 million in Swift Current through various partnerships during the past four years, including the Living Sky Casino and Sky Centre as well as the new Home Inn and Suites hotel development.

“First Nations are not a big part of the city of Swift Current but we’ve got a lot of history here, a lot of cultural context near here,” he said. “As treaty people we always try to reconnect and keep that connection to the land, so it’s very important that we look at developments here.”

He noted that housing was a challenge for everyone when the casino opened in Swift Current, with rental vacancy rates at less than one per cent. It convinced Silver Sage of the need to invest into the construction of these 22 rental units.

“We hope to impact the quality of life not just of our people but for all the residents of Swift Current and Saskatchewan,” he said.

Mayor Jerrod Schafer said the partnership between the City of Swift Current and First Nations, which started about 12 years ago, has been very successful.

“Compared to the open field that used to be here it’s truly a beautiful project and a great addition to our community,” he mentioned. “I think what’s exiting about that is it’s all partners coming together to make something like this come to fruition.”

The City provided tax abatements to the development through it's inner city housing program.

The two-bedroom units will rent for about $650 per month and three-bedroom units for around $775 per month. To qualify for these housing units, the combined family income cannot be more than $52,000 per year.

 
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Matthew Liebenberg

Reporter/Photographer