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Shíshálh Nation rescues, relocates 10 houses slated for demolition

March 27, 2024

Homes to travel to the First Nation by barge from Port Moody, B.C.

A white single family home surrounded by construction material.
A home in Port Moody, B.C., is lifted from its foundation to be moved to new location on the shíshálh Nation.(Jackie McKay/CBC)

CBC Indigenous: Ten homes will be saved from demolition and barged to the shíshálh Nation next week in what one company is calling a “revolutionary housing solution.”

Fifty-nine homes in Port Moody, B.C., just east of Vancouver, were set to be demolished to make way for a large-scale high-rise development. The shíshálh Nation is working with Renewal Development to move 10 of them to the community about 53 kilometres northwest of Vancouver.

“We’re trying to look at ways that we are building good, strong homes and looking at how we can expedite the process,” said lhe hiwus (Chief) Yalxwmeult Lenora Joe. 

Joe said housing is currently their top priority, with 200 people waiting for a home. 

“We have a lot of multiple families living in one home or they’re living outside the community and they’re renting a home at an outrageous price,” said Joe. 

A woman with short light hair in a black vest and scarf stands in a bright kitchen near a window.
lhe hiwus (Chief) Yalxwmeult Lenora Joe inside one of the homes that will be moved to the shíshálh Nation. (Submitted by Renewal Development )

The homes will be moved to the nation’s Selma Park subdivision project, where Joe said they currently have room to build 77 homes. Renewal Development will upgrade them to be more energy efficient.  

She said the estimated cost to build new homes for the subdivision was upwards of $450,000 per home. Joe said the cost of rescuing these homes is about half that, at about $200,000 per home. 

“It’s just a significant savings which allows us to bring in double the amount of homes that we need to bring in,” said Joe. 

Two men in orange overalls place a large yellow metal bean under a house.
Workers place beams under one of the homes to lift it off the foundation so it can be moved.  (Jackie McKay/CBC)
Houses to be moved to barge overnight 

Glyn Lewis, CEO of Renewal Development, said starting April 2 up to three homes at a time will be moved overnight from Port Moody south to the Fraser River, where they will be put on a barge.

The barge will travel through Howe Sound to the Skookumchuck Narrows and into Porpoise Bay, where they will be put back onto a truck and taken to the subdivision. 

“The longer you’re on the road, the more challenging the move is, but as soon as you get it to water, the easier it is to save and relocate a home,” said Lewis.

“A lot of the Indigenous communities that we’ve been building relationships with have land very close to water, which makes it easier for them to receive these homes.” 

Last year, Lewis’s company worked with the Squamish Nation to move a century-old schoolhouse that was set to be demolished from the Kitsilano neighbourhood of Vancouver to X̱wemelch’stn (Capilano reserve), on the North Shore. 

Inside of a kitchen in a home.
Renewal Development says all the appliances will be moved with the home to the community. (Jackie McKay/CBC )

“Shíshálh Nation is really blazing a new trail here and I can’t give them enough credit for leaning into what is an innovative but also I would almost call it revolutionary housing solution,” said Lewis. 

Data from the 2021 Census indicated that people in First Nations communities are four times more likely to live in crowded housing and six times more likely to live in housing in need of major repair than non-Indigenous people. 

Joe said they have applied for a number of federal and provincial grants to cover the cost of the project. B.C.’s housing minister said in a statement to CBC Indigenous that they are still in talks with the First Nation about the relocation of the homes and have not yet finalized a budget. 

A man in a construction vest stand outside a house with construction equiptment around it.
Glyn Lewis, CEO of Renewal Development, outside one of the homes that will be moved to the shíshálh Nation.(Jackie McKay/CBC )

Joe said shíshálh Nation currently has about 179 homes and a membership of about 1,700 people, of which about 700 members live outside the Sunshine Coast. They have not yet chosen families to live in the relocated homes, but Joe said the selection will be based on need and income. 

The houses are scheduled to be ready by the end of the year. 


Jackie McKay, Reporter

Jackie McKay is a Métis journalist working for CBC Indigenous covering B.C. She was a reporter for CBC North for more than five years spending the majority of her time in Nunavut. McKay has also worked in Whitehorse, Thunder Bay, and Yellowknife.