BY RYAN WELLICOME
Habitat for Humanity Red Deer Region is undertaking a second home building project in Lacombe that will house four families in the Shepherd Heights subdivision.
Regional officials, community members and even a celebrity or two attended a sod turning ceremony held by the organization last Thursday.
The ceremony marked the start of the project, funded, in part, by the City of Lacombe.
“We are very, very proud to award (Habitat for Humanity) with $480,000 for this project, being their second project in Lacombe, and supplying homes for four more families,” said Lacombe Mayor Steve Christie.
“They do great, great things for people all across the country and I couldn’t be happier to have them right here in Lacombe,” he said.
The City’s relationship with the organization is one that Christie wishes to continue for years to come.
“I want my granddaughter to be turning sod for Habitat for Humanity.”
Brian Brake, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Red Deer Region, was excited to be working with the City once again.
“This is our key project now and a little while ago we went back to see the City of Lacombe to offer our services for another build here, to help them with the housing strategy they have developed, and we were pleasantly surprised when they welcomed us back,” he said.
Brake expressed that the funds the City and the project’s other donors have put forward are vital.
“It’s everything. When we finish a build, we don’t get paid by anybody for the building. (We) can’t afford to carry debt as a not-for-profit society so the builds have got to be covered.”
Professional women’s ice hockey star Hayley Wickenheiser was also onhand at the ceremony.
“I think the build here in Lacombe is beautiful. The homes are going to be very well done and for any family coming in, it’s going to be a very nice place to live,” she said.
Wickenheiser was one of two celebrity attendees at the event, the other being former Calgary Flames trainer and Hockey Hall of Famer Jim ‘Bearcat’ Murray.
“Habitat is a tremendous organization. They give people a leg up in life who might not otherwise have an opportunity to own their own home or get started,” said Wickenheiser. “Sometimes all you need is just a chance.”
Based on a 2013 housing analysis report completed by the City, officials identified a need for more housing variation within Lacombe.
“Due to our housing study that we sanctioned a few years ago we needed more diverse housing in Lacombe and we’ve been working on that for the last five years so this fits in perfectly with what we are looking for,” said Christie.
“Lacombe is always an inclusive and welcoming community and Habitat for Humanity definitely helps us meet that mandate.”
According to Brake, Habitat can’t afford to stop now with 160 families currently qualified to receive homes.
In June, Habitat had to cease holding homeowners’ meetings due to the backlog.
Meanwhile, the project is the organization’s second undertaking in Lacombe, with the first being a similar build that gave four families new homes in the Mackenzie Ranch subdivision. The keys for the newly built duplexes were handed over to the new owners in June, nearly 10 months after construction began.
The project involved 223 volunteers and approximately 4,000 man hours were put in to complete the project.
The new project will bring the organization’s Central Alberta total to 32 homes built.
It is scheduled for completion in July, 2017.