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February 2, 2016
NEW PROJECT WILL SEE SUSTAINABLE HOUSING BUILT IN RURAL ALBERTA
Steel modular units make construction “cheaper, quicker, better”
Rural Albertans of limited means may soon benefit from new housing through the Sustainable Housing Initiative (SHI). The initiative is a partnership project led by the Alberta Rural Development Network (ARDN) with support from municipalities and in one case, contributions from a local college.
In 2015, around 40 rural communities indicated to ARDN that they needed affordable housing. In partnership with ARDN, several communities have now applied for funding to do a needs assessment or feasibility study. Project specific analysis of need and demand and/or preliminary analysis of financial viability will start in early 2016. The construction of the first of these multi-unit dwellings is expected to start in 2017.
“When we first began looking at the issue of rural homelessness, we were surprised by the immense need for affordable housing in rural Alberta,” said Dee Ann Benard, ARDN executive director. “The biggest challenge for this project is raising enough money to have these units built. Several municipalities have stepped up and we are working to obtain other funding to see it through.”
The project’s commercial partner is Ladacor, a Calgary based manufacturer that constructs multi-story, multi-family modular buildings through the repurposing of steel shipping containers. Modular units are prefabricated at Ladacor’s 28,400 sq. ft. manufacturing facility, enabling them to build affordable housing in 30-50% of the usual time and at a reduced cost.
“These structures are steel based so they are strong and fire-resistant. Our goal is to provide a safer and more durable structure than those made with traditional wood frames,” said Joseph Kiss, Ladacor president. “In short, we believe our modular system approach gives options to build cheaper, quicker and better.”
The biggest demand for these modular buildings comes from rural communities. Ladacor is currently building a new four story hotel in Bruderheim, Alberta and previously completed the largest shipping container based hotel in North America, the Days Inn in Sioux Lookout, Ontario. “So this project is a good fit for us,” said Kiss.
Kiss offered reassurance for rural communities concerned that manufacturing components in Calgary will take away jobs in their community. “We definitely contribute to local employment opportunities. When the modular units come to the building site, they need to be installed, interconnected and exterior finished in addition to the numerous site works required. This work is typically given to local suppliers. In traditional construction, in many cases, the projects can be too big for the local community to handle, so work crews are often brought in from the city, leaving limited work for local residents.”
ARDN is a not-for-profit partnership of Alberta colleges and universities working together to enhance the quality of life in rural Alberta through research and learning. Visit www.ardn.ca to learn more.
Ladacor is a Canadian business that designs, tests and manufactures unique modular units in its 28,400 sq. ft. facility in Calgary. More details at www.ladacor.com.
Dee Ann Benard Joseph Kiss
ARDN Executive Director Ladacor President
(780) 915-1751 (587) 352-5922