Innovative housing and strategic partnerships: Lessons in pre-development
February 14, 2023
It’s exciting to see a building rise up from the ground and tenants move in, but a successful project begins with good planning in the pre-development stage. At this stage, project teams are securing land and funding, and developing preliminary design concepts. A high level of pre-development helps keep costs stable and allows the project to progress at top speed once it gets going.
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Partnerships, networks, and expertise: How to find the right land for affordable housing projects
December 1, 2022
For Habitat for Humanity Saskatchewan CEO Denis Perrault, finding the right land is key to the success of the organization’s affordable housing projects, and the organization had just such a parcel of land allocated to them by the City of Saskatoon in the Pleasant Hill neighbourhood — but it had been sitting vacant for some time. "We knew we weren’t going to build immediately and rather than see that land vacant, we saw a different vision,” Denis said. Habitat released the land for Central Urban Métis Federation Inc. and the Saskatoon Tribal Council to use for rapid housing projects, creating a win-win situation and enabling the rapid development of two much-need housing complexes.
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Call for proposals still open for Indigenous Shelter and Transitional Housing Initiative
November 1, 2022
The Indigenous Shelter and Transitional Housing Initiative (ISTHI) is an exciting opportunity for organizations serving Indigenous clientele in the prairie provinces. The funding program provides access to capital and operational funding to build and run shelters and transitional homes for their communities. This funding opportunity also presents an excellent opportunity for collaboration and partnership between non-Indigenous and Indigenous housing and service delivery organizations, as well as Indigenous governments.
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Strong female leaders in housing empowering people to change
October 13, 2022
Housing is an industry where women have been historically underrepresented, but a transformation is underway. We spoke to the leaders at three community-minded organizations we’re working with about the prominent roles women are now holding in the industry, and what that means for the communities they serve.
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Breathing life into the Home Fire: Indigenous engagement in a rapid housing project
September 28, 2022
Architect David Fortin says translating Indigenous thinking and knowledge into contemporary architectural form is still a relatively new conversation, so when designing for an Indigenous client, he and his team greatly emphasize engagement. David worked on the Silver Sage Housing Corporation’s Horse Dance Lodge / misatimosimôwin mîhkowâp building in North Regina — a transitional place for people in need of immediate housing — and says community engagement was key to the success of the project.
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Elders’ Lodge features culturally-relevant garden to help improve food security
September 16, 2022
This summer, Central Urban Métis Federation Inc. President Shirley Isbister has been enjoying healthy snacks from the Round Prairie Elders’ Lodge garden. The community garden at the Lodge is central to the extraordinary shared courtyard and acts as the heart of the building, with the south-facing apartment balconies and indoor community space looking out over it. The garden, along with many other features of the building, were incorporated into the design thanks to early consultations with Elders from the community — a step in the development process that Big Block has found to be crucial to creating purpose-built spaces that will serve communities for generations to come.
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New opportunity for organizations to access Rapid Housing Initiative funding
May 19, 2022
Canada is facing a housing crisis and one of the ways the Government of Canada is tackling the problem is through the CMHC Rapid Housing Initiative. In November 2022, the third round of funding was released and the government is looking for new applications to build new housing and/or purchase existing buildings that will be rehabilitated or converted into permanent affordable housing. 
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Federal budget a win for affordable housing
April 25, 2022
Solving the housing affordability crisis is our guiding star. A big contributing factor to the erosion of affordability is a serious lack of supply. We want to be part of the solution, so our goal is to build 1,000 affordable housing units in Canada each year by 2025.That’s why we were so excited to hear about all the measures the federal government is taking to tackle the affordable housing crisis in Canada with its latest budget. 
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MLI Select: A multi-unit mortgage loan insurance product for companies that care
March 29, 2022
A new CMHC financing program provides generous mortgage loan insurance incentives for energy-efficient multi-unit housing. Based on a points system, the best terms are unlocked at 100 points, and Big Block can help our clients achieve that on new construction through energy efficiency alone.
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Beyond aesthetics: How the Round Prairie Elders’ Lodge incorporates Métis traditions
February 2, 2022
When architect David Fortin began envisioning the design for the Central Urban Métis Federation Inc. Round Prairie Elders’ Lodge, he knew it had to go beyond simple aesthetics. When he was looking at the traditional homes the Métis were building in Batoche and elsewhere in Saskatchewan, he also looked at how they inhabited those homes, he said. 
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