British Columbia

Vancouver picks 2 sites for modular mobile homes

The arrival of modular mobile homes in Vancouver is a step closer after the announcement of two sites where the shipping container-sized units will be developed.

'Shipping container' developments will be built on Howe and Main streets

The shipping container housing development at Vancouver's 502 Alexander Street was established in 2013. (Atira Women's Resource Society)

The arrival of modular mobile homes in Vancouver is a step closer after the city proposed  two sites where the shipping container-sized units could be developed.

The city said Thursday that two initial sites had been identified, at 1500 Main Street and 1060 Howe Street.

At Main St. —currently the site of a community food garden—the city expects 40 to 80 micro-suites to be accommodated. Another approximately 40 suites would be sited at Howe St., on the parkade of  the former Bosman's Hotel, which has been operating as a below-market housing rental unit since 2009.

The units, which are expected to be constructed offsite, then assembled by use of a crane, will be 250 square feet each, with bathrooms and kitchens included. At Howe St., the kitchen facilities will be shared.

The modular nature of the developments allow for them to be removed and reassembled at different sites as necessary. They will be offered to homeless singles or couples as temporary accommodations while they wait for permanent housing.

When the plan was announced in February, Vancouver city councillor Kerry Jang said he anticipated tenants would live in the units for up to two years.

Five companies have been issued RFPs for site specific proposals, with the expectation that the buildings will be ready to take tenants by late fall. 

As part of the RFP, the developers must apply for temporary development permits for each site, prompting a formal neighbourhood notification and input process.

The idea is not new to Vancouver. The Atira Women's Resource Society opened a six-unit housing complex made from recycled shipping containers in 2013 on Alexander Street.


  • An earlier version of this story said the modular suites will be 150 square feet in size. In fact they will be 250 square feet.
    May 12, 2016 3:12 PM PT