Partnerships celebrated at affordable housing project | DrumhellerMail
Last updateFri, 24 May 2024 12pm

Partnerships celebrated at affordable housing project

affordable-housing.jpgCouncillor Karen Ann Bertamini could hardly contain her emotions as she addressed a number of the partners that have contributed to Drumheller's new affordable housing project.
    The project in Drumheller is on track to be completed by the spring of 2009. On Thursday, December 11, partners including staff and council members from the Town of Drumheller, Keller Construction, inmates from the Drumheller Institution, Warden Mike Hanly and Institution staff, gathered on site. Bertamini, who has served on the Drumheller Housing Authority for many years, has been a proponent of the project.

    “I’m really proud to be here,” she said,  “it has been a struggle.”
    "I am so happy and so proud of my community, that they have really focused in on a goal, and stayed focused for years. Finally we are going  to provide units that really fill a gap in our community … This project surpassed my expectations."
    She said Drumheller had lobbied hard to secure the funding for the project. One of the criteria for funding from the Alberta and Canadian Government program was high growth and high need. While Drumheller hasn’t seen a significant spike in population, its steady growth over a number of years has predicated the need for such a project.
    “Councils have changed, but the staff kept the project together and held it to the forefront,” she said.
    The project received a grant from the Alberta-Canada Affordable Housing program for $2.8 million, and the Town of Drumheller has  laid out a total budget, including the grant, of $3.8 million. The Drumheller Rotary Club also pitched into the project, supporting a key card style laundry facility. The Alberta Real Estate Board also pitched in. Bertamini said no tax dollars were used in the construction of the building, nor will tax dollars be used to operate the facility.
    In April of this year, the town awarded the project to Keller Construction.
    Klaus Kiefer, vice president of Keller Construction, had nothing but good to say about the professionalism displayed when working with the town.
    “We appreciate the opportunity to work with Drumheller," he said.
 The project was a first for Keller Construction in using inmate labour. This has been a beneficial relationship. In fact, Kiefer confirms they will be using inmate labour on more projects in the near future.
    Inmates who worked on the project also reaped benefits. Facilitated by Jim Spiers, social programs officer and instructor Bob Komarnisky from the Drumheller Institution, the workers were able to have their hours count towards basic carpentry courses recognized by Alberta technical schools.  Labour supplied by the institution, began prefabricating some of the structures and continued with the framing of the building. With framing mostly completed, one inmate, for example, is working on the plumbing, while another will be part of a dry walling crew. One inmate, who will be released from the institution shortly, will continue his employment on the project after leaving.
    Warden Mike Hanly told The Mail, anywhere from six inmates, during the prefabrication, to upwards of a dozen have been working on the project. He says they have contributed more than 1,500 hours, netting a significant savings for the project.
    Hanly called the project a “win-win-win” situation. He said it strengthened the institution's partnership with the town, making a physical and financial contribution. It is also a win for inmates as part of Corrections Canada’s transformation agenda, making inmates more accountable for their own rehabilitation.
    He adds it is a win for Keller Construction with a new partnership that will lead to more potential employees.
    “Virtually everybody wins, the biggest winners are the people who are going to live in this facility,” he said.
    “When we work together, it can make great things happen,” he said.
    Hanly adds he looks forward to the institution partnering with the town on the potential recreation facility.

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