Mikisew Cree First Nation (MCFN) is bringing to Fort Chipewyan 17 homes and two trailers for quaranting now that the winter road can handle heavier loads.
Chief Peter Powder of MCFN said Monday he hopes most of the housing units will be in the community by the weekend.
“We have a housing shortage in Fort Chip so those houses coming here is significant,” said Powder. “We have a short window so I don’t know if we’re going to get them all in, but we wanted those to come up.”
Powder was elected chief this past September and said housing access would be a priority.
Municipal, First Nation and Métis leaders have complained of a housing crisis in the Fort Chipewyan area in recent years. Many homes in the community are crowded, with some sheltering up to three generations of families. There are also few places for singles or couples to stay.
The First Nation is also hoping to get additional land at a lower flood risk released to them from the provincial and federal governments.
The winter road linking Fort McMurray and Fort Chipewyan increased its load limit to 40,000 kilograms on Monday, making it easier for larger trucks to transport the housing units and other heavy cargo loads.
Powder does not know if the road will reach the 45,000-kilogram limit needed for heavier fuel and cargo deliveries this year. On Monday, he was driving on the road and could see soft spots forming along the route.
“I went on it today and it usually takes me three hours but it took me five hours,” said Powder. “It can take a long time for the ice bridges to give out but with a few warm days, it wouldn’t last very long.”
Powder did not have an exact update on local fuel supplies, but heard the community is in “good shape.”
Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
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