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This is from the 20th Assembly, 1st Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was housing.

Topics

Lesa Semmler

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, you know, as to what the department and what has been done, you know, there's been a long engagement within the city of Yellowknife. As a Regular Member who sat on the other side, I am not from Yellowknife, but I know I sat in many conversations and many concerns that other Yellowknivs Members that were bringing forward, so I know that there's been long ongoing conversation. If the Member wants to discuss further what is being done and what needs to be done, I'm willing to have that conversation with the Member. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Robert Hawkins

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Perhaps my question was just too simple, Mr. Speaker. I'll go about it this way: Can the Minister put all information on the health and social services website as to the stages and where it is with respect to this particular project and where it's going? Thank you.

Lesa Semmler

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Mr. Speaker, yes, I will work with my department to make sure that the steps of the process are public. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Shane Thompson

Health and Social Services. Final supplementary. Member from Yellowknife Centre.

Robert Hawkins

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, one of the issues the Minister raised herself specifically in one of the questions was accessibility to land, and we had -- we cannot let that pass without questioning what does that actually mean? Does the department have access to the full land that they intend to put the project on, or is there a further complication the public, including myself, am not aware of? Thank you.

Lesa Semmler

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, with that question I'll have to get back to the Member. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Shane Thompson

Thank you, Minister of Health and Social Services. Oral questions. Member from Frame Lake.

Julian Morse

Julian Morse Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my questions are for the housing Minister. First off, why is maintenance chronically underfunded? I'm curious to know what circumstances caused this challenge so we can better understand it as we're priority setting. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Shane Thompson

Thank you, Member from Frame Lake. Minister of Housing NWT.

Lucy Kuptana

Lucy Kuptana Nunakput

(audio) maintenance with housing units is not chronically underfunded. We do have a budget for maintenance. It's throughout the Northwest Territories. A lot of times what we're finding is with timelines and entry into housing units, it sometimes crosses wires where the maintenance doesn't get done and we have to follow up with the tenants. We do have a budget. It is in place year after year. Sometimes that maintenance issue is pushed forward, but we do try our best to get the unit maintained to a safe manner. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Julian Morse

Julian Morse Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Another question I have about Housing NWT is why do we cap the number of units in a community? And to give an example, Mr. Speaker, the Minister announced that the 50-unit project in Yellowknife, which I'm very excited about, but that won't actually result in more units of NWT Housing units in the community. So I'm curious to hear from the Minister why that is.

Lucy Kuptana

Lucy Kuptana Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Why we cap the number of units in a community, most proposals and most funds from the federal government are provided by proposal. Unlike the Indigenous governments, we don't have actual distinction-based funding where a lump sum is provided to the government. Sometimes we're fortunate as a government to be able to be provided some funds, but most funds provided to this government are provided for specific projects. There's no need to cap projects or cap units or cap communities. It's based on needs. It's based on waiting lists, like the waiting list in Yellowknife. We have 330 people on the waiting list here in Yellowknife. We're providing what we can. We have over 330 units in Yellowknife. We do lease in Yellowknife to provide some of that stop gap between people waiting on the waiting list, but there's no intention to cap, and we do what we can with the funds that are provided. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Julian Morse

Julian Morse Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And thank you to the Minister for the answers. So just coming back to the Minister's answer to my first question, I mean, it seems to me -- when I say chronically underfunded, what I'm speaking to is I'm constantly hearing from constituents, and the situation I've seen from myself, is that it seems like we don't have the means to maintain our stock. So I would just ask the Minister directly, I mean do we not need to increase funding in order to stabilize the capital budget to continue building and repairing units in the territory? Thanks, Mr. Speaker.

Lucy Kuptana

Lucy Kuptana Nunakput

I'm just going to put my earpiece -- thank you, Mr. Speaker. Absolutely, I would love the support of this House to increase the maintenance budget for housing units across the North. There is so much work to be done. I mean, throughout the campaign, everyone was knocking on doors. We all know the conditions of homes in the North, and we know that there's a lot of work to do. And if we can do that as a House in our priorities and planning session, absolutely, let's look at that and let's increase that budget. But, again, like the finance Minister says, we're in a fiscal restraint and we have to be careful of where we're committing to at this point, but let's have that discussion. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Shane Thompson

Minister of Housing NWT. Final supplementary. Oral questions. Member from Yellowknife Centre.

Robert Hawkins

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, last summer, in June of 2023 that is, Canada supported one of the housing projects here in Yellowknife, and it's called the Aspen Apartments. It will provide 36 permanent units, homes that is, for families.

Mr. Speaker, noting what the Minister had just said about 330 people on the waiting list and how slow it is to get on that list, and it appears to be a chronic problem, where is the current state of this particular project and when can we expect them to be putting families into homes? Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Shane Thompson

Thank you, Member from Yellowknife Centre. Two questions, but I'll turn to the Minister for Housing NWT.

Lucy Kuptana

Lucy Kuptana Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. With the Aspen Apartments, the 36-unit here in Yellowknife that Housing NWT recently acquired, according to the updates from Housing NWT it's going to take up to 24 months to get them housed and to have tenants in the apartment building. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Robert Hawkins

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as a former employee with the department of public works for the government, I actually helped do projects in that building. Many of us in this room, you know, maybe even some Cabinet folks, will remember the crisis that happened to the YWCA where one of their buildings burnt down and they were able to facilitate to let people move into that place even for about a year. So, Mr. Speaker -- and there were other opportunities. What is so dangerous to that building that we couldn't do a phased move in and a phased repair to ensure people and families are safely living in an environment that they can be rather than at risk or sitting waiting at risk on the 330 waiting list? Thank you.

Lucy Kuptana

Lucy Kuptana Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I had an opportunity to visit the YWCA and to look at their new unit and new building, and it was amazing. At the end of the day, the service that they provide and the programs they provide, I'm so happy to see that type of facility here in Yellowknife.

With the Aspen Apartments, we'll look at if we can have a phased-in approach, and I'll follow up with the Member to see is if that's possible. I don't know if that's possible, but I can find out from Housing NWT considering the waiting list in Yellowknife, like throughout the North, there's a long list. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Robert Hawkins

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Yeah, thank you, Mr. Speaker. And on that point, across the North, as the Minister said, there's homes sitting being heated and families not -- accessible throughout the territory, and the Minister knows this.

Mr. Speaker, my next question is specific to the units. Is there a way to develop a program that builds pride and we'll call it theoretic ownership into this? In other words, is there a way to get families involved in the project? And when I'm saying involved, I mean like painting rooms and being involved in that stuff. The moment you get clients building some type of relationship with where they live, they build a personal ownership and hence there's a ripple effect of pride and taking care of the place.

So would the Minister, as I'm getting at, is would she be able to look at seeing if there's any way to get these social clients who will be moving into involved in the project? So, you know, when they know it's their home, they feel it's an investment into their future as well. Thank you.

Lucy Kuptana

Lucy Kuptana Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And I could understand where the Member's coming from, pride in our home is very, very important and investing into that home is important as well. I don't know if there's a way but I can find out if there's a way. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Shane Thompson

Thank you, Minister of Housing NWT. Oral questions. Member from Monfwi.

Jane Weyallon Armstrong

Jane Weyallon Armstrong Monfwi

(audio) this is for the infrastructure. I want to ask the Minister, has the GNWT advanced any discussions with the Tlicho government to explore how another successful P3 partnership could support the development of stable, secure energy to the community of Whati, Gameti, and Wekweeti? Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Shane Thompson

Thank you, Member from Monfwi. Minister of Infrastructure.