When John Armitage first heard about the opportunity, he jumped at the chance to help students find their way into the building trades. 

“We have a continuing crisis in construction,” says Armitage, who celebrates his 50th year of membership with the Kingston Home Builders Association this year. “Through the Building Construction Internship Program, established some 40 years ago through the Limestone District School Board, we have been able to expose students to home building in a real, hands-on way, and some have gone on to careers in the trades.”

Over the years, companies have contributed to ensure this program stays strong, and incredible partnerships have been forged along the way including this year’s project, a series of Tiny Homes built for Habitat for Humanity Kingston Limestone Region. Local students are not only learning skilled trades but are part of offering a hand-up to people in need of affordable housing. It makes this year’s milestone all the more special: their 100th home together.  

Former KHBA President and current Habitat KLR Chair Jacqueline Collier is proud of this year’s project, which involves building eight Tiny Homes for people in need of safe housing, in partnership with the City of Kingston.

“The construction industry is responsible for every piece of infrastructure in a community,” says Collier. “Affordable housing is critical, and for many it is out of reach. These partnerships are bringing hope and changing lives for the people who will call this project ‘home.’”

Both Collier, who sits on the City of Kingston’s Housing and Homelessness Advisory Committee and works for Tamarack Homes, and Armitage, president of Brookland Fine Homes, commend local educators and students.

“It has taken over 30 years to reach 100 builds,” says veteran teacher Dan Fisher of Ernestown Secondary School, host of the Building Construction Internship Program. “The program began with school administrators and community partners willing to take risks, and our success continues to open new possibilities.”

Fisher knows what it takes, having participated in about a quarter of the builds. John Godden, founder of sustainability consultancy Clearsphere, agrees. “We wanted to build the healthiest and most energy-efficient homes possible,” Godden says. “That includes new technologies that will make a difference in people’s lives.”

The milestone achievement is truly about community. “The short-term goal is to build a house,” says Armitage. “The long-term goal is to build people.”

The author, Sarah Margolius, works for Panasonic, which has donated equipment for this project.