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Canadian Housing Awards Herald Innovations

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 19 September 2000 00:00

In an announcement almost overshadowed by the star-studded glitz and flashy accolades of Toronto's highly-acclaimed International Film Festival, 13 finalists in the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) Housing Awards Program were introduced by Claude Poirier-Defoy, acting CMHC President. Awards will be presented during a forum held November 14-16 in Ottawa that will focus on finalists' projects, all of which exemplify the theme "Tomorrow's Housing Today: Meeting the Housing Challenges of the New Millennium."

"This Program showcases the best the Canadian housing industry has to offer and promotes the application of these innovations and best practices," said Mr. Poirier-Defoy, referring to the 6th set of awards celebrated since the Program began in 1988.

The Awards Program is open to individuals and organizations, private or public, who have developed innovative housing solutions with practical approaches. Architects, designers, builders, planners, financial institutions, public and non-profit housing and social service agencies were all eligible for the awards, particularly when their work "promotes innovations in housing for seniors, families, persons with disabilities, Aboriginal peoples and young people."

Here is a sampling of the finalists selected by the independent committee representing various disciplines in Canadian housing::

  • Westminster Housing, Winnipeg, Manitoba Westminster

    Housing Society, a registered charity that acquires and rehabilitates older housing stock in the core area of Winnipeg, won recognition for its achievements in rejuvenating sections of Winnipeg which were in serious deterioration. By providing quality housing for low-income people at very affordable rental rates, Westminster stabilized neighbourhoods and encouraged others to change the face of Winnipeg. This group has demonstrated practical approaches to lowering acquisition costs, acquiring private funding, building community partnerships and encouraging volunteer participation.

  • The Chez-nous Community Care Co-operative, Wellington, Prince Edward Island

    The Chez-nous, a co-operatively owned, bilingual community care seniors' home, provides quality housing in a rural community and basic care to seniors who are no longer capable of living on their own but do not require 24 hour care.

  • EcoNomad, Combined Mechanical Utilities Container, Kenora, Ontario

    The EcoNomad represents a systems approach that builds upon conventional technology to combine traditionally-separated heating, electrical and plumbing systems into one container, which is then "plugged into" the house to provide off-grid power, heat, hot water, potable water and wastewater management. This affordable technology makes utilities economically viable in the Canadian north and other areas where conventional services are not available. It also increases energy efficiency, reduces environmental impact and lowers costs.

  • Response Strategies for the Rehabilitation of Boarded-up and Abandoned Buildings in Montreal, Quebec

    The City of Montreal adopted redevelopment strategies to rebuild deteriorating neighbourhoods by helping landlords and community organizations renovate, recycle and refurbish abandoned buildings.

  • Fastfoot® Fabric Formwork, Surrey, British Columbia

    Fastfoot ®uses fabric, instead of lumber, to form the concrete footings and pads that support buildings. The concrete-filled fabric adapts to uneven ground conditions and provides fast, economical and accurate forms for concrete footings. This system is lightweight, easy to install and has the potential to reduce labour costs and use fewer materials.

    The CMHC Housing Awards Program is a good start but it is not enough. If we want each neighbourhood to offer a variety of housing choices to individuals and families at all stages of life, we must encourage more "thinking outside the box." While a lot has happened to housing and real estate over the past decade, has much really changed? To see continued improvement and practical innovation, we must become more demanding of builders and developers and more involved ourselves.

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