Spring 2016 marks Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North’s 12th anniversary, and this year the organization has several impressive achievements to celebrate.
“We are excited to announce that the Vancouver Island North (VIN) affiliate has finalized the purchase of a .83-acre (.34-hectare) parcel of land at 1330 Lake Trail Road,” says Habitat’s Executive Director, Pat McKenna. “This land was acquired from Joe Formosa of Muchalat Construction. Joe was very mindful of our needs throughout the negotiation process. He has always been a tremendous supporter of Habitat for Humanity’s core mission of building safe, decent, and affordable housing for our partnering homeowner families.”
“We purchased the property a couple of years ago, with plans of having it rezoned for a multi-family development,” explains Formosa, “When Habitat for Humanity expressed an interest in the land, selling it seemed like the right thing to do. We congratulate Habitat on the purchase and wish them all the best as they embark on this ambitious project. Muchalat Construction is also committed to further supporting this development by donating the use of construction equipment as the project progresses.”
McKenna explains that the City of Courtenay has approved the initial design at Lake Trail, to construct one triplex and four duplexes, to provide housing for 11 local families. Further rezoning, permitting and site engineering will take place in the coming months. Installation of underground services will be completed this fall, and foundations starting in spring 2017. This will be Habitat VIN’s largest build to date and, because of the complexity, it will be a multi-phase project over a three-year period. Future community engagement, in the form of corporate sponsorship and volunteer engagement will be essential to the project’s success.
“The intricate and time-sensitive process of partner family selection will begin this fall,” adds McKenna. “In order to qualify for an affordable no-interest mortgage on a Habitat home, selected homeowner families are required to put in a ‘down payment’ of 500 hours of sweat equity, both at our ReStore and on the build site. Applications for home ownership can be obtained on our website at www.HabitatNorthIsland.com.”
If the excitement of the land purchase wasn’t enough cause for celebration, Habitat was recently honoured for its efforts in building community at the Habitat for Humanity Canada’s Annual General Meeting in Kitchener, Ontario. Of the 10 awards presented to the 56 affiliates across the country, VIN received two.
“We were recognized with the Epic Engagement Award for our efforts to re-energize our fundraising efforts in 2015,” explains McKenna. “Thanks to several new and innovative fundraising ideas, we saw a growth of 266% in fundraising revenue last year. We were also awarded the Social Enterprise Award for the ‘Rebrand Hope in the Restore’ panel painting project that engaged more than 60 local artists, all of whom volunteered their time and talent. The artists were invited to paint their interpretation of what building community meant to them on the new shelving header panels for both our Courtenay and Campbell River ReStores.”
Confidence in the work that the local affiliate is doing on the North Island was further demonstrated when their Board Chair, John Newman, was nominated for and elected to serve on Habitat Canada’s National Board of Directors. Newman, a retired engineer, not only also serves as Vancouver Island North’s Board Chair, but he volunteers one day a week at the Courtenay ReStore, and is a volunteer soccer and basketball official, a tutor, and more.
“These are exciting times for Habitat VIN,” concludes Newman. “We look forward to the next few months as we get the Lake Trail property serviced, and increase our fundraising efforts and community engagement to support this next build. In doing so, we will fulfill Habitat’s core mission of helping hard-working local families by providing them with a ‘hand up’, not a ‘hand out’. This will enable them to break the cycle of poverty, and make a significant impact on the lives of their children.”