British Columbia

Plan for temporary tiny-home village in Victoria made of shipping containers gets closer to reality

The 30 units fabricated out of 15 shipping containers will be located in a city-owned parking lot on Caledonia Avenue and staffed 24/7 in an effort to help people living rough in the provincial capital transition into stable housing.

Project to create supportive housing in city parking lot 'very likely' to go ahead, Mayor Lisa Helps says

An image of the proposed tiny home project designed by Aryze Developments. The plan is to have 30 units of housing made out of 15 shipping containers, with staff on site 24/7 to help those experiencing homeless ultimately move into permanent housing. (Aryze Developments/www.canadahelps.org)

Victoria is one step closer to building a tiny-home village out of shipping containers to temporarily house people in need, according to the city's mayor and a local non-profit involved in the project.

Our Place Society announced Monday its staff will manage the proposed supportive housing project, which could soon be located in a city-owned parking lot at 940 Caledonia Ave. If completed, it could house 30 people in as many units, made out of 15 shipping containers, by the end of the month.

The village would help with the city and province's plan to move all unhoused Victoria residents indoors by March 31. According to Mayor Lisa Helps, who spoke to CBC's On The Island on Wednesday, the project is "very likely" to go ahead.

The tiny home concept began in December when Aryze Developments and the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness started a crowdfunding effort to help pay for the the project, eventually raising nearly half a million dollars.

A bird's-eye view of the proposed supportive housing project at 940 Caledonia Ave. The company marked to build the village, Aryze Developments, in partnership with the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, raised close to $500,000 in community donations to put toward the project. (Facebook/Aryze Developments)

Each micro-home will have a floor size of around 100 square feet and will be equipped with a bed, desk, chair, wardrobe and fridge. They will have electricity but no cooking capacity; residents will have meals delivered and will also have access to a common area to cook and reheat food. Showers and washrooms will be communal.

"It will just be a simple home, but a home nonetheless," said Julian Daly, CEO of Our Place in an interview on CBC's On The Island on Tuesday.

The point of the homes, which Daly expects will be on the Caledonia Avenue site until September 2022, is ultimately to move people into permanent housing by having staff work with each resident to create a tailor-made transition plan.

There are an estimated 200 to 300 people experiencing homelessness and currently sleeping in Greater Victoria parks in makeshift shelters and tents, such as this one seen pitched in snow in Beacon Hill Park on Feb. 14. The city is working with the B.C. government to have everyone sheltered by the end of March. (Gregor Craigie/CBC )

That plan, said Daly, would look at the individual's health and financial and employment needs to help them not only secure permanent housing, but also keep it — something Daly said is very hard for people struggling with poverty, addiction and mental health issues.

The site will be staffed 24/7 and have security guards posted on the perimeter at night. All residents will be able to lock their units and no guests will be allowed.

Helps said council has already unanimously approved permit applications from Aryze and the Coalition and the next step for the city will be to hear from the public on March 18.

"We would be very hard pressed to turn that one down," said Helps about the plausibility of the project moving forward.

With files from On The Island

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