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Eco-housing concepts unveiled

Danielle Sachs
Northern News Services
Published Friday, June 29, 2012

The Yellowknife Eco-Housing Project will be built on 48 Street, it was revealed Wednesday.

The 24-unit development will take up a 100 by 150 foot area beside the Boston Pizza on 48 Street. The developer is Tony Chang of TC Enterprises.

Two open houses were held at city hall Wednesday to seek feedback from the public before plans are finalized.

The afternoon open house attracted close to 25 people. The evening open house only attracted around five people, and it turned into a small discussion about what's needed and wanted in Yellowknife in regards to eco-housing, other development and services.

Among those in attendance at the open houses were Wayne Guy, from Guy Architects, Jon Neuert from Baird Sampson Neuert Architects based in Toronto, Jeff Humble, director of planning and development for the city of Yellowknife and Seth Atkins from Holmes on Homes, which is interested in skill development and internships in Yellowknife. There was no word on whether filming would take place or whether Mike Holmes would visit in regards to this project.

They showed the concept for the design, which features covered parking, retail spaces at the ground level and an open south-facing courtyard, maximizing the amount of light into the building.

The project had to meet a variety of goals, from social, environmental and economic areas, said Guy.

"There were 34 indicators that came out of the last sessions," he said. "It's like our shopping list."

Over the summer, Guy and Neuert are finalizing the plans and will hold another public session in September.

One of their main goals for the development is to provide affordable housing, although construction costs and the costs per condo are not yet known.

A call for tenders is expected to be issued in January with construction starting in 2013.

While it's considered eco-housing, there won't be any fancy high-tech gadgets.

"We're improving on existing technologies," said Neuert. "There's no point in installing something that no one here knows how to fix or maintain."

One of the goals is to start revitalizing downtown Yellowknife.

Humble said this shouldn't be a one-off project, but something that stands as an example for other developers and contractors.

Once the first project is complete, people will know what to do and how to work with different materials, said Atkins.

"A big part of this project, and one of the requirements, is that it builds capacity for Yellowknife," he said.

Atkins said there are three main areas that can provide jobs and training - planning, construction and inspection - and those skills would stay in Yellowknife.

He said through courses offered at Aurora College, people can learn how to plan projects and what needs to be done. Through construction internships they learn the skills needed to continue on their own.

Fact file

Key goals and indicators

Reduce energy use by 50 per cent

Encourage use of common areas and shared spaces

Aim for commutes of less than 1 km

40 per cent of building will commute by walking, cycling or bus

Host a mix of households: couples, single people and families

Source: Guy Architects and Baird Sampson Neuert Architects

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