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On the move: Old homes travel from Port Moody to shíshálh Nation

Warren Frey
On the move: Old homes travel from Port Moody to shíshálh Nation
RENEWAL — Ten Port Moody houses will be moved from the Lower Mainland to the shíshálh Nation on the Sunshine Coast as the start of a new subdivision.

A Port Moody neighbourhood’s old home stock is helping create a new subdivision at a Sunshine Coast First Nation.

Real estate developer Wesgroup acquired 59 single-family homes to build a higher-density community at Coronation Park in Port Moody. B.C.  Renewal Development worked with moving company Nickel Bros to assess the 59 homes slated for demolition in winter 2023 and determined 10 of them could be rescued, relocated and repurposed.

Renewal met with the shíshálh Nation in early 2023 about receiving the rescued homes and an agreement was signed for the nation to receive all the homes by winter 2024.

shíshálh Nation Chief Lenora Joe said the homes will be the start of a new subdivision.

“The subdivision has the potential for 77 homes. This is the beginning of that,” she said.

Approximately 200 people are on the waiting list, Joe said, and are currently living with families or outside the shíshálh community.

Joe said the homes, built from old growth wood, simply last longer than today’s conventional stick-built houses.




“These homes from Ladner are still in good shape. We’re looking for generational homes. When houses are built now, that really doesn’t happen,” Joe said.

“We’re trying to save these homes from the landfill. They’re getting refurbished and (when residents take occupancy) they won’t know the difference between these and a new home,” she added.

Renewal founder and CEO Glyn Lewis echoed the homes were more than capable of both the barge journey to shíshálh Nation on the Sunshine Coast and of providing long-term housing for nation members.

“All of the homes were about 1950 to 1960 rancher bungalow-type homes. They’re generally the bread and butter of the home relocation industry. Good, strong well-built homes generally built with first growth lumber and good craftsmanship. So structurally I would argue these homes are stronger than a lot of the homes that you see built today,” Lewis said.

In order to bring the homes up to current energy efficiency standards, Joe said, Renewal used sustainable materials from Port Moody mansions that were not removable and had to be demolished.

“What Renewal is doing is gutting them and taking floors, windows, all the energy-efficient structures they can salvage and putting them into new homes,” she said.

Lewis added Renewal will also build garden suites underneath each home, bringing the total to 19 individual units, and will again use salvaged fixtures, cabinets and materials for those suites. 

Renewal has undertaken similar pilot projects in the past, Lewis said, but the shíshálh Nation home relocation was their biggest to date.

“I think that the overarching theme here is that we tear down 2,700 single-family homes across Metro Vancouver every year as the region densifies and I know we’re seeing similar densification trends in a lot of urban communities across Canada. You’d be amazed by how good some of these homes are that are being torn down,” he said.

“We really do think that this is the future, that there are responsible alternatives to demolition and homes should be relocated. If they can’t then be they should be deconstructed.”

Joe said moving the homes was “quite an easy process” and she was even able to see a number of houses delivered at night from her front porch.

“Nickel Bros have been doing this for a long time. They’re very professional and know what they’re doing,” she said.

She added work on the homes once they arrive will involve local contractors.

“We could have had work done there (Port Moody) or complete it here, and we wanted the option to do the work here,” Joe said.

“The timeline is that we’re hoping to move families in by Aug. 1, a very quick turnaround.”

You can track the houses as they move here.

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