British Columbia

Shipping container homes a 'win-win' for homeless on Vancouver Island

The first of four planned tiny homes has opened in a Comox Valley campground in a joint effort between a non-profit and the local rotary club.

The first of four homes has opened in a Comox Valley campground

The first of four shipping container homes is now complete and ready for occupancy at Maple Pool Campground in Courtenay, B.C. (Submitted/Charlene Davis)

Near the banks of the Tsolum River in Courtenay, B.C., sits a tiny steel house with a big purpose.

The home, built out of an old shipping container, will soon be occupied by someone who had nowhere to live and is the result of a partnership between the local rotary club and Dawn to Dawn: Action on Homelessness Society.

It is the first of four structures expected to be built at the Maple Pool Campground by June.

"They're just lovely," said Charlene Davis, president of the Rotary Club of Comox, in a phone interview on CBC's On The Island, adding they come equipped with bathroom and kitchen facilities and there are future plans to add green roofs and front porches. 

The containers, according to Davis, are themselves a problem because they arrive in B.C. full and it is too expensive to ship them back empty, so they are often abandoned.

The image shows the bedroom area from two different angles. The homes are equipped with bathroom and kitchen facilities and have enough space for separated living and sleeping spaces. (Submitted/Charlene Davis)

"Shipping containers are a win-win when it comes to small homes," said Davis, noting they are not only affordable and sustainable, they are fairly indestructible and if the interior gets damaged, they can be gutted.

The total cost for the home came in at under $20,000, which included purchasing the container, moving it to the site and retrofitting the interior. It measures eight feet wide by 20 feet long, and can accommodate two people. An occupant has already been chosen for the first home.

All four homes will be situated at Maple Pool Campground, a 10-acre site minutes from Courtenay's city centre. 

According to the 2018 Report on Homeless Counts in B.C., the Comox Valley — which includes the municipalities of Courtenay, Comox and Cumberland — had 117 homeless people, more than half of whom were unsheltered. 

To hear the complete interview with Charlene Davis, click on the audio link below:

With files from On The Island


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