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Houses saved from demolition being moved to B.C. First Nation

A major move underway in Port Moody will see 10 houses saved from the wrecking ball and given new leases on life on the Sunshine Coast where they can nurture future generations of families.

“We had a lot of Christmases and birthdays here,” said Wendy Kinloch, the former owner of one of the houses. “We’ve been in the house for 34 years and raised two beautiful girls here.”

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

But now 10 of the old houses have been deemed appropriate for relocation.

“Demolition should be the last option, not the first. And as we’re proving today, there’s a very viable alternative. And a responsible alternative,” said Glyn Lewis, owner of Renewal Home Development. “Which is to physically rescue, relocate and repurpose many more of these homes.”

After driving through the neighbourhood and identifying the homes he thought could be saved, Lewis reached out to the developer to see if it would be amenable to the idea.

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

“Most homes have to be torn down after a certain amount of time,” said Lhehiwus Yalxmult, Chief of the shíshalh Nation. “But these homeowners really looked after their homes and appreciated what they had and we’re so very excited to be able to continue that.”

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

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

On the way, they will pass through the Skookumchuck Narrows, a fast-moving tidal rapids on Sechelt Inlet.

Once safely at their destination, the houses will be placed upon new foundations with basement suites – creating homes for 20 families.

Thinking about her home of 34 years nurturing another generation of children brings a tear to Kinloch’s eye.

“It was just a wonderful neighbourhood, a wonderful home, and I’m so glad that it is going to someone else and it will see that life,” she said.

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