Recent History – 2004-2006
By Gary Rusak
The layout of a proposed Elders’ Housing project was finalized at a meeting held earlier this week, the architect for the project said on Tuesday.
“To date what we did was define the needs that were set by the committee, that included elders, and then we did a design around those needs,” said Douglas Cardinal, an Ottawa-based architect who was hired for the project.
“(The conceptual drawing) met everybody’s approval as we worked back and forth with the committee. Everybody agreed on how we interpreted their needs in the drawings.”
Cardinal, who gained acclaim for his work on the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa and the First Nations’ University in Regina, said work on the project is on track.
“Now we want to go to the next phase which is to make it happen,” he said. “We want to make their vision into a reality.”
The architect designed 14 separate units, each one in the shape of an octagon with one bedroom and a central living room area.
“We wanted to make the layout respectful of the traditional value of people and reflect their culture,” he said.
The next step for the project, that is to be located on a donated acre of land just off 17th Street across from the Willowbrook townhouses, will be to secure funding. Cardinal said that he is unable to estimate how much the project would cost.
“That is what we are exploring now,” he said. “We would know more detailed costs when we get into further analysis. We are looking at frame construction. Personally I would like to see as much wood as possible and wood finishing being used.”
The Dawson Creek Native Housing Society is spearheading the project and is hoping to have enough funding to build the 14 units and break ground early in 2006. So far, the project has progressed through internet communication, faxes, and teleconferences, but Cardinal said he is looking forward to being on site and personally meeting the building committee and the elders in the future.
“When the project goes to the next level, I’m sure we will meet,” he said. “It’s a good group and I enjoy meeting with them through the internet and the telephone. But, of course, I would really enjoy meeting them in person.”