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House gets new lease on life

Inner City Youth Alive program renovates derelict structure into classy digs

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Two years ago, a house on the corner of Powers Street and Redwood Avenue sat in dilapidated condition, desperately in need of serious TLC.


At the time, Inner City Youth Alive (ICYA) bought the property for $2 from the City of Winnipeg, and got to work patching the old place up via its Ground Level Renovations work skills training program.


Now it’s the kind of place anyone would be happy to call home.


On Feb. 21, ICYA opened the doors of the reborn residence to the public, inviting neighbours and media to come check out what they’ve done.


Greeting visitors is a sleek, modern home featuring redone floors, brand new kitchen cabinets, new siding, a new roof, new windows and stainless steel appliances.


The work skills program teaches its participants basic carpentry, framing and plumbing skills, among others. Overseeing the overhaul at 286 Powers St. were Nolan Giesbrecht and Greg Wiebe, who worked with the crew to get the house ship-shape.


"It just seemed like a logical extension of what we were doing, a bigger project than what we’re usually doing but something we wanted to get into," Giesbrecht said.
Though they needed to bring in outside help to do some of the work they’re not trained for, such as the electrical wiring, they did as much as they were able.


"Someone did the roofing, and the electrical, mechanical and plumbing we had someone else come," he said.


"Anything we could legally do, we did, except the roofing, because I really hate roofing... Also, our guys have never done it before and it’s two floors up."


Sol Beaulieu, one of the workers on the project, said he’s had a great experience with the work skills program. He had construction experience beforehand, but he’s learning how to do new jobs all the time.


"I really enjoy it, I’m learning lots, definitely," Beaulieu said.
"I’d never done siding, I’m in the learning process of how to do that... Putting tar paper up, I’d never done that before."


The program received a hefty number of donations from local sponsors, who provided materials or labour toward the project.


"Everything you look at is really good quality, but it also brings to mind all the people who’ve helped on the project," Giesbrecht said.


Giesbrecht said the plan is to sell the house, and he has hopes this project will be a seed which leads to others like it down the line.


"We might in the future plan to do rentals, but nothing’s been decided on that. There’s a need for good landlords in the neighbourhood so it’s something we’re looking at," he said.


"We’d like to continue, but we have to be careful. We’re a small program at this point, so not do too many, but at the same time we want to grow and maybe be more full-time."

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