WATCH: The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation is using shipping containers to build new homes on its reserve near Tofino in hopes that the affordable rental units will address the local housing crisis.
They look like any other house under construction but several new homes being built on the Tla-o-gui-aht First Nation are really made out of shipping containers.
“It’s starting to turn out really well. I mean architecturally they?re really nice places, they?re small but I mean they?re laid out very well.” said band member and project foreman Matthew Seitcher
The homes are not just stacked containers. Building codes require a lot more extra construction than one might expect and the insides are framed like a traditional building.
There’s also a standard roof and when it’s done, it’s an attractive looking home.
Single-family and multi-residential units are being built.
One has 16 units inside. Each measure less than 400 square feet.
“So we?re going to have a small kitchen area here and then this will be our living space here and we will have Murphy beds,” said Seitcher as he gave a tour. “I mean it?s not super large but it?s definitely a decent liveable space.”
The homes are being built on reserve land near the Best Western Tin Wis Resort and the Tlo-qui-aht First Nation hopes the development solves a local housing crisis for band members.
Many of them live off reserve as far away as Nanaimo but they?re seeing this as a chance to return home.
“There are a lot of band members who want to return home and there?s a lot of families here living with families, overcrowding is a huge issue,” stated Tla-o-qui-aht Housing Manager Ivy Bell.
Using shipping containers to build homes hasn?t been done like this before and there are a lot of eyes on it to see how it turns out but so far it hasn?t exactly been cost-effective.
“It?s not conventional so we?re learning her way through it, we?re going to wait to see if this is something viable that the Nation can do in the future.” said project manager Wayne Hawthornthwaite of Coast Mountain Construction.
This project is also employing local members who have taken apprenticeship programs at Camosun College and North Island College.
“Yeah I?ve learned quite a bit since this project started and I feel confident in my abilities to carry-on building houses after we?re done here.” said band member Jonathan David.
The first units year will be ready for occupancy by the end of June.