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From Crashed Ice to new housing for those in need

Ottawa East News
March 24, 2017

Locals and Canadians from coast to coast were excited to watch the thrills and spills of the Red Bull Crashed Ice event that took place in Ottawa earlier this month. But the story’s not over.

More than a one-time spectacle, the event will have a life-altering impact for low-income families in the Ottawa region. This comes as a result of our partnership with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), a sustainability leader dedicated to the future of our forests and to promoting the responsible procurement of forest products.

In order to build the structure used in the Red Bull Crashed Ice event SFI, along with SFI program participants West Fraser, LP Building Products and JD Irving, donated more than $100,000 in wood products from forests certified to the SFI standard.

Further, SFI made it a condition of its donation that the wood will be reclaimed and repurposed for use by Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa (Habitat GO) and other Ottawa 2017 events. That’s where we come in.

Habitat GO will use this reclaimed wood as part of a 16-townhome community development for low-income families in Orleans, the largest housing initiative that we’ve worked on to date. The Orleans development is located close to a future light rail station and will provide families in need of affordable housing with excellent transportation access.

We think it’s a strong feature of the SFI wood donation that it is to be used in this multi-family residence for the benefit of families in need, including a young indigenous family. SFI has been a multi-year supporter of Habitat for Humanity Canada’s Indigenous Housing Program, and the national leadership of both organizations is committed to strengthening even further our connections on multiple levels.

I know that Kathy Abusow, the CEO of SFI, and Mark Rodgers, the CEO of Habitat for Humanity Canada, are excited about jointly approaching the organizers of future Red Bull Crashed Ice events around the world and using this precedent that SFI has set in Ottawa to make a case for the reuse of wood in future Red Bull events for other Habitat for Humanity builds the world over.

Recovered wood that is not used on the Orleans project nor on other Ottawa 2017 projects will be sold to the public through our ReStore, a social enterprise that helps us raise money for Habitat GO’s operations and new building projects.

Eligible Habitat for Humanity partner families are carefully screened to ensure they meet the qualifications of our Homeownership Program. The families then work alongside volunteers to build their homes and they pay a long-term, no-interest mortgage, which enhances their pride of ownership.

And it’s working. In fact, Habitat for Humanity’s Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project has already exceeded its goal this year, by a substantial margin, of building 150 homes across the country in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday.

Habitat GO is planning additional builds in Ottawa on the same build site this year, including one focused squarely on building affordable housing for indigenous families and another where Canadian military volunteers will help us construct a new home. We’ll also be celebrating our Orleans housing development with a neighbourhood block party on July 9th.

It seems our work has a positive impact on everyone, from participating families to sponsors to the people who help with construction. Every time one of our volunteers passes a home that he or she helped build, they recall the experience of raising a wall or installing a floor joist, of providing a hand up, not a hand out, to a family in need of affordable housing.

That’s why we’re truly grateful to all the volunteers, sponsors and donors who continue to make our work possible. It’s thanks to individuals, corporations and organizations like SFI that we can continue to provide well-built, quality homes and help families build strength, stability and independence.

Alexis Ashworth is the Chief Executive Officer of Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa. If you’d like more information on becoming a volunteer, sponsor or donor of Habitat GO, please visit us at

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