A strongly worded statement from Mayor Rebecca Alty is still hanging in the wind.

On Friday, Alty took to social media to say she felt “shock and dismay” at a decision by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to reject a proposal by the Yellowknife Women’s Society to convert Yellowknife’s Arnica Inn into a 42-unit transitional housing project. In the post, Alty expressed frustration with the NWT Housing Corporation’s apparent lack of support for the plan, which Bree Denning, executive director of the women’s society, said was part of the reason the project was rejected.

Mayor Rebecca Alty says she is still waiting to hear from the NWT Housing Corporation about a rejected proposal to convert the Arnica Inn into transitional housing. Nick Pearce/NNSL photo

As of Monday afternoon, Alty said Housing Minister Paulie Chinna had yet to respond to her questions. She said she emailed the questions and concerns reflected in her Facebook post in an email to Chinna Thursday.

Chinna hasn’t responded to a request for comment. A Housing Corp. spokesperson arranged an interview with president Tom Williams Friday afternoon, but cancelled. Yellowknifer is still waiting for a response to a subsequent request.

Bree Denning said the radio silence from the Housing Corp. has her “a little bit baffled.

“Surprisingly, no,” she said. “There’s been no word from housing at all.”

Yellowknife Centre MLA Julie Green speaks to reporters at the NWT Legistlative Assembly this month.
Nick Pearce/NNSL photo

The society was proposing that CMHC cover up to $4 million of the projects costs, with the housing corp. covering $660,000. Denning said she learned from CMHC that it turned the plan down after housing corp. advised it wasn’t in favour of the project.

On Monday, Yellowknife Centre MLA Julie Green said she would raise questions in the legislative assembly when it returns to sit Tuesday. She said she plans to ask about the challenges facing the project and what remedies can be applied.

“Obviously, we need the housing,” Green said in an interview. “Obviously, there’s not going to be a better deal for the number of units. So what’s the problem of putting two and two together here?”

“Everything seemed to be lined up. And (as to) why the government didn’t come through, I would like some answers.”

Lost opportunity at more transitional housing ‘unfair,’ says couple who benefited from the model

Seen in downtown Yellowknife on Monday, Robert Washie and his wife Raylene Tuckaroo, both benefited from transitional housing.
Nick Pearce/NNSL photo

It was a turning point when Robert Washie and his wife Raylene Tuckaroo moved into the transitional housing that led to a long term two-bedroom apartment about three years ago.

Now they have their family back together and Washie said they’ve largely managed to pay off their debts. There’s still challenges — the couple and their three children make do with limited space — but it’s a difference.

Washie said it was “unfair” that YWS proposal to convert Arnica Inn into transitional housing was scrapped. It’s a similar model to what helped his family.

“With the help of YWCA, they gave us a home,” Washie said. “A good home, a roof over our head.”

The women’s society similarly planned to provide a transitional housing model at the Arnica Inn.

The project aimed to reach two groups of people, Denning said. One is to assist tenants who need stability and want to build life skills and a rental history. The second is people  with conditions, such as a disability, a potential injury or advanced age and who need support.

“We’re proposing a mixed model. If people are able to transition, that’s fantastic for them, but if people are never able to transition out, then that can be their permanent home,” Denning said.

Nick Pearce

Nick Pearce is a writer and reporter in Yellowknife, looking for unique stories on the environment and people that make up the North. He's a graduate of Queen's University, where he studied Global Development...

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