After tour of fire devastation in N.W.T., Trudeau promises new homes for Yellowknife

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says there will be 50 new affordable homes in Yellowknife under the federal government’s rapid housing project.

Trudeau says it’s a jointly funded project between the federal government and the Northwest Territories, with the City of Yellowknife providing the land.

“Work on a construction site is already underway,” Trudeau told reporters in Yellowknife on Thursday.

He said the rapid housing project is in the third round of funding, with more than 15,000 homes to be built nationally. He acknowledged remote communities face unique challenges with supplies and workers.

“The people who are, of course, hardest hit by this lack of supply are vulnerable people including seniors, Indigenous peoples and those experiencing homelessness,”  he said.

“Housing is a complex issue and we have to tackle it from different angles.”

Trudeau was in N.W.T. touring communities ravaged by recent wildfires.

The territory saw nearly 70 per cent of its population displaced by the blazes and a record amount of land burned during the fire season.

The 20,000 residents of Yellowknife were forced out of their homes in August for three weeks due to an encroaching wildfire. Flames didn’t enter the capital but destroyed most buildings and homes in Enterprise, a hamlet of 100 people near Hay River.

About 20 residents have returned to Enterprise, but many are staying elsewhere in the territory and other parts of Canada.

Trudeau toured Enterprise on Wednesday, walking among burned-out homes and vehicles as he spoke with officials.

“Enterprise has long been known as being an unbelievably close-knit, welcoming community. It’s the gateway into the Northwest Territories,” he said.

“The devastation that we saw, people who built homes in the community over decades losing just about everything, is truly heartbreaking.”

With files from The Canadian Press.

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