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Homes saved from demolition are moved to a First Nation on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast

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A major project underway in Port Moody will save 10 homes from the wrecking ball and give them a new life on the Sunshine Coast, where they can feed future generations of families.

“We celebrated a lot of Christmases and birthdays here,” said Wendy Kinloch, the former owner of one of the homes. “We have been in the house for 34 years and have raised two beautiful daughters here.”

The Windsor Drive home is one of 59 homes initially slated for demolition after being purchased as part of a land consolidation by Wesgroup, a developer that plans to build a dense, master-planned community with 2,500 new residential units on the site.

But now 10 of the old houses have been deemed suitable for rehousing.

“Demolition should be the last option, not the first. And as we prove today, there is a very viable alternative. And a responsible alternative,” said Glyn Lewis, owner of Renewal Home Development. “It’s about physically saving, moving and repurposing more of these homes.”

After walking through the neighborhood and identifying homes he thought could be saved, Lewis contacted the developer to see if he would be supportive of the idea.

Once Wesgroup was on board, Lewis made contact with the Shíshalh Nation near Sechelt, which currently has 200 families on its housing waiting list.

“Most houses have to be demolished after a certain time,” said Lhehiwus Yalxmult, chief of the shíshalh nation. “But these homeowners really took care of their homes and appreciated what they had and we’re very happy to be able to continue that.”

The homes are only about a kilometer from Rocky Point Park at the east end of Burrard Inlet, but they cannot be loaded onto barges there because they are too large to safely navigate the viaduct that leads to the park’s boat ramp.

Instead, the homes will take a circuitous route through Port Moody and Coquitlam before being loaded onto barges for the journey to the Sunshine Coast and their final destination near Sechelt.

Along the way, they will pass through the Skookumchuck Narrows, a fast tidal rapid on Sechelt Inlet.

Once safely at their destination, the homes will be placed on new foundations with basement apartments, creating accommodation for 20 families.

Thinking of her home where she spent 34 years raising another generation of children brings tears to Kinloch’s eyes.

“It was just a wonderful neighborhood, a wonderful house, and I’m so happy that it’s going to someone else and seeing that life,” she said.

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