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It’s a pleasure to be here on behalf of my colleague, the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and the Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

I’m pleased to be joined for this announcement by the Honourable Harry Bloy, Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism and by Mayor TBC. I would also like to acknowledge the representatives from Lookout Emergency Aid Society, who will not only operate and manage this building, but who will also provide the support and guidance that will really make the difference for their residents. 

We are here today for an important and exciting event – the official opening of Rhoda Kaellis Residence here on Royal Avenue, a project that will have long-term benefits for the City of New Westminster. This building brings 24 units of supportive transitional housing and affordable permanent housing to the city – a place to start over for men and women seeking to break free of the cycle of homelessness and poverty.

This is great news for those who need a hand-up, and for New Westminster itself. By providing more housing options for people in need, this project will contribute to the economic and social well-being of the entire community.

For the individuals who will live here, Rhoda Kaellis Residences is more than just a building. It is also a supportive environment where they can improve aspects of their lives and work towards self-sufficiency in a welcoming, community environment.

I’m also pleased to recognize that thanks to the planning and input from multiple partners, this building is Gold Certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System. This means reduced energy consumption and costs, and a reduced impact on our environment.

Our Government is committed to creating jobs, building vital infrastructure and improving the quality of life of residents throughout the country. We are proud to have invested $1.65 million in federal funding toward the construction of Rhoda Kaellis Residences through the Affordable Housing Initiative. This investment is helping to ensure that more of our residents can find the support they need to live independently and contribute to their communities.

Our Government understands that having a safe and affordable place to call home is important to Canadian families and their communities. That’s why our Economic Action Plan included one-time funding of more than $2 billion over two years for new and existing social housing, plus $2 billion in low-cost loans to municipalities for housing-related infrastructure.

As of March 2011, more than 14,000 social housing and First Nations housing projects had been completed or were under way across Canada, improving living conditions for tens of thousands of Canadian families while creating jobs and stimulating local economies. Baker Gardens is counted among them.

The Canadian economic recovery is underway, reflecting the extraordinary measures in our Government’s Economic Action Plan and Canada’s strong economic fundamentals. Canada’s Economic Action Plan is now entering its next phase, A Low-Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth. This phase represents our continued efforts to create the right conditions for long-term economic growth, while steadily eliminating the deficit and returning to balanced budgets.

In July 2011, federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for housing signed a new affordable housing Framework Agreement for the remaining three years of the federal, five-year affordable housing commitment of more than $1.9 billion made in September 2008. As part of the 2008 investment, the Affordable Housing Initiative and the federal renovation programs for low-income households were extended for two years, which represented some $60 million in federal funding for British Columbia.

A new agreement signed in July by both orders of government provides $90 million in federal funding for the remaining three years for British Columbians in housing need.

The official opening of Rhoda Kaellis Residences marks an important step forward for New Westminster and demonstrates what we can achieve when we work together. When it comes to building safe and strong communities, it takes the efforts of many to achieve success. It takes partnerships at all levels of government and with diverse stakeholder groups to get real results.

On that note, I wish to congratulate and thank everyone involved with this project, including the folks at the Lookout Emergency Aid Society, the City of New Westminster and the Province of British Columbia. Your efforts are helping to provide a stable, safe place for people to live in a community environment.

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