NWT disabilities council housing project to go up at Rock Hill location

Remnants of Rockhill Apartments after Tuesday morning's fire. Photo by Greg Komarnicky/100.1 True North FM.
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The NWT Disabilities Council announced a new housing development that would address people with disabilities’s history of living in “isolating and unstable” housing.

The disabilities advocacy group announced Thursday a partnership with the DeBeers Group and the NWT Housing Corporation to build a building aimed at addressing accessibility issues Yellowknife residents may have.

The building will be built in the old Rock Hill site location — which formerly housed the YWCA’s housing apartments before a fire burned down the building. The land is being given to the Disabilities Council by the NWT Housing Corporation.

DeBeers has provided $1 million in funding to support the project.

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“The key reason we’re doing this is there’s been a real deficit in barrier free housing in Yellowknife,” Denise McKee, the executive director of the NWT Disabilities Council said. 

McKee said one of the biggest issues with accessible housing is it is normally designated just for people with disabilities, and can be very isolating. McKee said the pandemic may help the city move away from this “archaic structure” which has isolated people with disabilities, and made it hard to change the mindset around how housing for them should be designed.

“COVID-19 is a good insight into how people with disabilities live,” McKee said.

McKee said the new space would include spaces for businesses and a diverse range of people, which she said would be a welcome change to how development has been conducted in the past.

“People have to remember, when we create these diverse communities, it’s good for the community,” added McKee.

The process is currently in the planning stage, with the Disabilities Council currently applying for funding with the federal government. Further planning will happen over the next year.

In a statement, housing minister Paulie Chinna said the project would be a blueprint and a “shining example” for development in the future.

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