Instead of demolishing two homes in Esquimalt, a developer is giving them to the Songhees First Nation.
“It just seemed to be the right thing to do,” said Troy Grant, co-founder of TLA Developments, the company behind the gift.
TLA has a contract to put in condos on the land. They assessed the two single-family homes on the lot and found they were in good shape. Instead of demolishing them TLA Developments thought the Songhees Nation would be the best fit to receive them, considering the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s findings, ongoing residential school burial site discoveries, and the continuation of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women across Canada.
“When Truth and Reconciliation came out, words like genocide were being tossed out. As a soldier — genocide, having seen that in action in Haiti or Bosnia, we’ve seen it up close. So it actually resonates with us,” said Grant.
Grant said this gift is their way of helping to address the genocide that happened here in Canada.
“Just putting an orange shirt on once a year is akin to saying our thoughts and prayers are with you. It’s great, but it doesn’t do anything. We want to do more than that,” said Grant. “We want to physically and tangibly do something to demonstrate that we will help our fellow Canadians out.”
Songhees Chief Ron Sam told the Times Colonist in a statement that they look forward to more chances working with developers like TLA.
Esquimalt’s mayor Barbara Desjardins says two houses being moved for reuse during a housing crisis is a win not just for Esquimalt, but for the region.
“So much of what is going to the landfill is from new construction right now, so any way we can reuse, re-purpose let’s do it,” said Desjardins.
There are also economic benefits to doing business this way. It’s significantly cheaper. Grant said the savings depends on the house but could reduce demolition costs by up to 50 per cent.
“I think more will do it when they see the benefit of it,” said Grant.
Both Esquimalt and TLA Developments say they’ll be continuing to use this model, in situations that they can. The first home on the lot moved to the Songhees Nation last week. The next house moves to the Songhees Nation on Wednesday.