North Island College carpentry student building a tiny homes base.
Photo Credit: Dean Stoltz | CHEK News

Students Start Building Tiny Village

Housing project becomes a learning opportunity for students

They’re helping to get people off the street and into homes

It’s faced obstacles along the way, but the Watyaqit Tiny Home Village is finally coming together!

And students are making it happen.

North Island College carpentry students are assembling the first of the village’s tiny home pods as a part of their level 1 apprenticeship.

“We always try to do a legacy project which is through partnerships with various community organizations, and this is their legacy project which they are going to be able to leave for the community,” said Marisa Bennett, Campus Administrator for NIC, to Chek News of the student’s work.

The pods will house some of Port Alberni’s most vulnerable residents in a safe and caring environment.

Cindy Stevens is the Port Alberni Friendship Centre Executive Director. “The big thing is being safe and being respected, being treated really well and being cared about,” she told Chek News. “Having a community that kind of wraps its arms around you.”

The Friendship Centre will be hiring eight permanent and eight casual staff members to provide 24/7 support for Watyaqit residents.

The goal is to provide an environment so supportive that it helps residents slowly become fully independent and get into long-term housing.

“We feel there’s going to be a huge demand,” added Stevens. “There are a lot of people on a wait list already for housing in general, so many people are having to be at the shelters, sleep there and then have to leave. That’s very challenging for most people.”

The $1 million project will cost about $800,000 a year to run, and they plan to build a total of 30 pods.

Most of the students currently building them are from the Nuu-chah-nulth Employment Training Program. They’ll be building support structures, the office building, and assembling at least 15 of the pre-built tiny homes over the next few weeks.

After Christmas, the Friendship Centre will be hiring carpenters to complete the remaining projects.

They hope to start taking in new residents by January.