The four Arctic Canada Construction (ARCAN) houses that have been under construction in Hay River in recent months are about to begin being shipped to Jean Marie River in the coming days.

The company could not cite a specific date as of Dec. 6, however two of the four are expected to be on the road to the Dehcho community by this weekend. The are two are expected to be shipped next week.

The aim from the GNWT has been to have all four on site for occupancy by Christmas in order to begin replacing units damaged from the 2021 spring floods.

Jay Boast, spokesperson for the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs said in October that the department had originally hoped to have the three public housing units and one market rental – all owned by the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation – in place by Nov. 30 to provide for four households or 10 individuals total.

Chris Betts, district manager for the South Slave region for Arctic Canada Construction stands in the kitchen area of one of the housing units on Dec. 5. Two units are expected to be transported to Jean Marie River by this weekend to replace damaged homes from the 2021 spring flood. Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

Chris Betts, district manager for the South Slave region for ARCAN provided a tour of the construction site on Dec. 6 where about 15 workers were still putting the finishing touches on the structures this week.

The transportation of the homes will be the first attempt by the company as homes are typically built by the company on site.

“I am nervous about the shipment but I think it is going to go okay as the contractor we have is pretty confident,” said Chris Betts, district manager for the South Slave region for ARCAN this week.

“I’ll be driving out with them and taking lots of photos on highways.”

Exterior work was being done on one of the home units planned for shipment to Jean Marie River by the end of this week. The structures will include metal siding and a new raise in level of the structures to allow between a foot and a half to two feet of water to pass underneath. Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

There have been challenges in securing enough workers and access to supplies since the project began late in the summer.

As the site in Jean Marie River is being prepared, the recent cold weather has posed problems with some of its heavy equipment and overall coordination, Betts said.

“The process of construction since September has been good other than some challenges trying to source materials,” Betts said.

“There have been certain things that you would never think of that either you can’t get you or have long lead times. The showers have been the biggest thing mechanical-wise but everything else has been reasonable. ABS piping has been really tough to get. Steel prices are just going up now.”

Chris Betts, district manager for the South Slave region for Arctic Canada Construction shows the kitchen and living room area in one of the four housing units at the ARCAN site, Dec.6. Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

Lumber has also been pricey, but Betts said he was able to secure enough of the material in bulk and have it situated in the ARCAN yard over the scope of the project.

Flooring and mill work were being done late in November and mechanical and electrical work were expected to take place on Tuesday with hookups of furnaces and heating systems.

All four homes are identical as they stand on stilts to allow between a foot and a half (0.46 metres) to two feet (0.6 metres) of water under the frames.

Each one has a roomy entrance room which connects with a large kitchen and living room area. A hallway runs through to the structure which has two bedrooms, a mechanical room, a bathroom and separate room for laundry.

Caelin Cameron, vice president of design with ARCAN told the Hub in October that the homes will be an upgrade from what exists in the community as they will have metal siding and standard interiors with click-in vinyl flooring.

The designs will also include a hybrid insulation system with outboard insulation and insulation within the wall cavity.

ARCAN is also busy overseeing numerous projects in the region that include the Hay River Fish Plant, a new Family Support Centre, a two-storey office building in Fort Simpson.

The company has also provided volunteer hours in Fort Simpson and Jean Marie River following the 2021 floods to assess and renovate damaged homes.

ARCAN workers were on site putting the finishing touches on four housing units that are to be shipped to Jean Marie River for occupancy before Christmas. Two of them are scheduled to be transported to the Dehcho community before the end of this week. Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

Two more house frames are being arranged to be built by ARCAN and delivered to the community in February.

Boast said in October the department has worked hard since the flooding last spring destroyed homes in the Dehcho.

“MACA has worked one-on-one with residents since the flood waters receded to understand their needs and get them met,” he said. “In the early stages of flood recovery, MACA had contractors completing damage assessments and emergency mould abatement work.”

At that point, residents had been given the choice to manage their own home repairs or have the territorial government manage the home repairs. Home repairs were to be done in November.

The GNWT has been purchasing replacement homes for those structures damaged beyond repair.

Boast said that the process has taken longer than the department would have liked following the flooding, but there were several factors that led to the timing.

“The department needed to undertake several pieces of work, prior to finalizing the specifications for construction of the manufactured homes,” he said. “While this process has taken longer than MACA would have liked, it was important to be thorough in our approach.

“Time also needed to be taken with residents, so that they fully understand the process being used, the time involved, and how the GNWT is meeting its commitment to assist them to recover from the 2021 flood season.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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