2012-10-17 at 17:05
RuTang Zhang, chairman of PTH China, signs an agreement with Patrick McGuinness, president and CEO of Dowland Contracting Ltd. on Oct. 17, 2012.
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Dowland Contracting Inc. has signed a deal it hopes will provide some relief to the housing crisis in many remote First Nation communities.
PTH Canada and PTH China formally signed an agreement with Dowland Contracting Ltd. at an event held at Fort William Historical Park Wednesday. The agreement will have products shipped in from China, including portable mining camps and steel-based housing, for some First Nation communities.
These premade houses are in response to the housing crisis many First Nation communities are facing as well as the additional pressure from the expected mining boom from the Ring of Fire development.
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Don Wing, senior vice-president of Dowland’s Ontario division, said the houses will be built by the community with only a few employees from Dowland going in to provide assistance.
All of the features of the home including the steel-frames are premade and are easily transportable. The houses can then be assembled like Lego but putting the pieces in the right spots, Wing said.
“Each one of the communities has an allotment from the government for a certain number of houses,” Wing said.
“They also deal with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation so they can finance those homes. This product gives us the ability with a shortened window to bring the product in containers, build it in a shorter period of time and possibly give each community more houses for the same dollars.”
He added that everything that happens in the north will be done through the partnership with Wasaya Group Inc.
But in the next four years, Wing said their goal is to not import from China but to establish a plant in Thunder Bay. The plant in is expected to provide more than 100 full-time jobs.
“We’re position ourselves for the mining,” he said. “We’ve gone out and met with Atikokan and many of the regional communities. Our partner is Wasaya and they have 12 communities as partners already. We really have the ability to get rolling on this I would think by the spring.”
“Housing is the largest industry in Canada. We only average 350 houses a year in Thunder Bay. We’re talking about doing 15 times that.”
Stan Beardy, Regional Chief of Ontario for the Assembly of First Nations, said it is exciting to see First Nation communities building partnerships with companies. The more partnerships, the great the chance those communities can find solutions for those living in the far north, he said.
“Any new housing and new homes will contribute to the wellbeing of the people,” Beardy said. “I think where we are at in terms of the lack of proper housing is a major challenge. When you start to look at new opportunities anything will help.”
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