Prime Minister Justin Trudeau returned to Yellowknife to announce a new affordable housing project, as he continued his tour of the wildfire-devastated territory on Thursday.
The 50-unit affordable housing project is slated for completion in 2025. Trudeau was joined at the announcement by Premier Caroline Cochrane, MP Michael McLeod, Mayor Rebecca Alty, and Minister for Housing NWT Paulie Chinna.
Trudeau cited high rents and low vacancy rates in the N.W.T. capital as motivations for the project: In October 2022, the vacancy rate in the N.W.T. capital was just 3.5 per cent and average rent was more than $1,800, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
Minister Chinna offered more detail on the project, saying it would feature “a mix of bachelor suites for seniors and singles and two-bedroom apartments for small families.” She said the building will be located downtown, within walking distance to a school and a grocery store.
Federal funding for the project, totaling $20.8 million, will come from the Rapid Housing Initiative, which was established during the pandemic.
But Trudeau’s comments covered a variety of subjects, from the ongoing conflict in the Middle East to wildfires.
Trudeau discussed his visit yesterday to the South Slave, including Enterprise, a visit he called “heartbreaking.” A majority of structures in that community were destroyed by wildfire in August.
“Enterprise has long been known as being an unbelievably close-knit, welcoming community,” he said. “It’s the gateway into the Northwest Territories, and has always been an extraordinarily tight-knit, friendly place. The devastation that we saw, people who built homes in a community over decades, losing just about everything is truly heartbreaking.”
Trudeau addresses war in Middle East
Trudeau also took a moment before his announcement to acknowledge the conflict in the Middle East. “Hamas is a terrorist organization,” he said. “And it does not represent the Palestinian people or the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people. And it does not represent Arabs or Muslims. Israeli and Palestinian civilians deserve to live in peace and security, in dignity, and with their human rights respected.”
At least three Canadians are still missing after Hamas’ attack on Israel last week, whose families, Trudeau said, the federal government has been in contact with.
He said a Canadian Armed Forces plane carrying 130 passengers had landed in Athens from Tel Aviv, and another plan was scheduled to make the same trip today.
He also said the federal government is providing $10 million in humanitarian aid to Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Later on Thursday, Trudeau was scheduled to participate in a roundtable with the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce as part of his third day in the N.W.T. As of publication time, Trudeau’s itinerary had not been updated to say if he would continue his visit to the territory.