Containers could be housing option.

Author:Ross, Ian

Pic Mobert First Nation CEO Norm Jaerhling has seen all kinds of solutions designed to alleviate housing challenges on reserves.

Over the years, the community near the north shore of Lake Superior has been quite innovative in experimenting with various systems, but the basic flaw in the business plan has always the financial risk.

The community is entering into a partnership with SwissCan Co-Development, a Hagersville, Ont.-based joint-venture company that provides affordable housing solutions through some creative financing alternatives that are favourable to First Nation communities.

"We're structuring our game plan with them right now," said Jaerhling.

In mid-February, he was working on the mechanics of a deal with the company that could see reconditioned and repurposed shipping containers employed as social housing units in the community.

"What they have is not a unique platform but a unique approach," he said.

The SwissCan group arranges for private sector financing and manages the placement on the reserve in collaboration with the community.

"The interesting piece with this group is they've created a system of private sector financing to fund the costs of the unit, which effectively derisks the use of the housing system for the communities. The only role for the community is to provide the serviced lots," said Jaerhling.

The company is proceeding this year with a 100-unit development on the Six Nations reserve near Brantford.

"I've been out at the site," said Jaerhling. "It's ambitious but it's a really timely solution.

From a manufacturing facility on the Six Nations reserve, near Brantford, the company offers different models of one to three bedrooms and cottages using 40-foot shipping containers.

The interiors offer modern, quality finishes with high-end appliances, plenty of natural light with lights, and in-floor heating controlled by smart systems.

The units are durable enough to withstand temperatures of minus 60 Celsius.

An air circulation system prevents moisture being trapped, which creates mould.

The company even makes an off-grid home powered by Tesla battery systems.

SwissCan has arranged a supply network of partners that include Tesla and Home Hardware, with the shared vision of designing a high-quality, energy-efficient housing system for Indigenous communities, especially geared to those on social assistance allowance.

Rather than design a conventional and expensive wood-framed home that can create a financial hardship...

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