Tiny homes should start appearing at Watyaqit Tiny Home Village on Fourth Avenue in Port Alberni this week.
Two buildings housing bathrooms and showers were installed on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at the site, in the 3600-block of Fourth Avenue.
Thirteen students from the Level 1 Carpentry program at North Island College were on site helping to prep the area for the bathrooms as well as get it ready for the tiny homes or pods coming later this month. Contractors also working at the site included Alberni Electric, Alberni Towing, Bowmark Concrete, AV Little Digger and Hauler and 3D Geomatics Land Surveying.
“This is a community project that was added on to the Level 1 apprenticeship curriculum, just for some work experience for the students,” said NIC instructor Morgan Brown. The Level 1 apprenticeship training is being conducted in partnership with Nuu-chah-nulth Employment and Training Program (NETP), he added.
“It just works out that the Port Alberni Friendship Center had this project going on, and it coincided with (students) doing work experience.”
Students are scheduled to be on site for four days a week over four weeks. “That should be more than enough time to complete the 15 units and one office building that we’re going to assemble.
“It’s nice to see it coming together.”
The sleeping pods or tiny homes will be showing up three at a time starting this week, Port Alberni Friendship Center executive director Stevens said. The homes are approximately 3.6 metres by 2.5 metres (12×8 feet) and the Friendship Center is hoping to put 30 of them on the site. Some of them may be set up like duplexes, but they are all to sleep one person in each.
The NIC and NETP students will be assembling the first stage of the homes, she added. The 2.5-metre by 2.5-metre (8×8-feet) electrical room was scheduled to be installed early this week.
Manager Desiree Sanderson was hired six weeks ago and the Friendship Center intends to hire eight more permanent and eight casual staff members to provide around-the-clock support for Watyaqit residents.
Ideally, people will start moving into the tiny homes from the illegal trailer park on the property next door in mid-December. Residents from the trailers will be given priority to move into the tiny homes; some have already said no. Potential residents will have to go through a VAT (vulnerable assessment tool) screening with BC Housing before they will be granted a tiny home.
“We want to support anybody wanting to move from the trailers into the tiny homes,” Stevens said. “They’re our first priority. (Watyaqit) is low barrier but they have to qualify.”
Stevens said the Friendship Center is only providing a housing alternative and assisting people with the screening. Eviction of the trailers on private property beside the Wintergreen Apartments will be up to the City of Port Alberni, she said.