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Ribbon cut on affordable housing units

Masha Scheele Photo
Mayor Marcel Michaels (left), West Yellowhead MLA Martin Long (middle) and Harry Arnesen of Happy Creek Affordable Housing cut the ribbon Jan. 21 on nine new affordable units at Happy Creek.

Masha Scheele

The new apartment building at Happy Creek Estates opened its doors to visitors on Jan. 21 for its grand opening.

Although not entirely finished, the building adds nine affordable housing units to the community.

Harry Arnesen from Happy Creek Estates Ltd. said that seven of the units have already been filled by applicants, and the rest is expected to be filled within the next week.

The project was under construction since June 2019, and residents are now set to move in March 1.

The additional units have been in the works since May 2018 when council supported exploring potential opportunities in partnership with Happy Creek Estates Ltd. and the Evergreens Foundation for the immediate and long term future of affordable housing development.

“Today’s grand opening is an important step for providing affordable housing for Albertans in an area where it is needed most, our government is proud to support the project through investment of almost a million dollars. We know that access to affordable housing is still a serious issue for many Albertans,” stated West Yellowhead MLA Martin Long at the grand opening ceremony.

The province provided more than $957,000 toward construction of the nine one-bedroom units, $940,000 of that funding was acquired from the sale of a previous project that involved the Evergreens Foundation. 

The Province was the original contributor and committed to reinvesting the money plus interest, totalling $957,141, back into a new affordable housing project in Hinton.

Further costs for the build were shared between the developer, Harry Arnesen, and the Town of Hinton on a 50-50 basis.

The Town contribution is to be repaid in the case Happy Creek Estates ceases to continue as an affordable housing project in 2032.

The addition moves Happy Creek Estates from 47 units to 56 units.

“We knew there was a spot there for a building. We’re thrilled to see this project come to completion and become the full expression of what this small parcel can be as far as affordable housing in the community,” said Arnesen.

Arnesen stated there are more than nine applicants on the waiting list for affordable housing, but added that he was thrilled to be a part of a small step toward a future in which housing and security is no longer a problem.

Happy Creek has maintained a continuous waitlist since the original units opened in 2010.

Three of the new units are barrier-free, which are easily accessible for people with mobility issues.

Mayor Marcel Michaels thanked all partners, as well as previous councils and administration for the vision of the project.

“Partnerships from well over a decade ago and partnerships today have made this happen. I hope we continue with that concept of working together and realizing we cannot do it by ourselves. It takes the private sector, it takes other levels of government, and it takes the will of people together to build something beautiful,” said Michaels.

Masha Scheele Photo