Shipping container housing being built in Vancouver

by Array

VANCOUVER, British Columbia—Shipping containers that likely would have been left to rust in Vancouver  will instead be used to construct a housing project that’s the first of its kind in Canada.

Twelve containers will be converted into social and affordable housing for women in the city’s downtown east side, where construction got under way Friday.

The project, slated to be completed by next April, was developed by the Atira Women’s Resource Society, which bought a lot in 2009 to build traditional housing.

Atira CEO Janice Abbott said plans changed the following year when the society submitted a winning proposal to BC Hydro, which was giving away two shipping containers to a non-profit group.

Two more shipping containers were donated, and Atira bought another eight from the Port of Vancouver to build the project modelled on similar ones in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe.

Abbott said six of the 12 units will be occupied by women over age 55 and currently living in a shelter or a hotel.

“What we hope is to set up an intergenerational program,” Abbott said. “We have housing for young women next door and we’d like to set up mentoring relationships between them.”

The 30sqm (320sqf) containers will be stacked three high and each will have a private bathroom, kitchen and in-suite laundry. Floor-to-ceiling windows will be at the end of each floor.

The shipping containers have been modified at a Richmond, British Columbia shipyard.

Atira is planning a week-long open house for the public before the units, costing $100,000 each, are expected to be occupied on April 1, 2013.

“While getting them here and getting them stacked is extremely satisfying and exciting, what I’m really looking forward to is handing over the keys to the women who will live there,” Abbott said from the site where the containers were being unloaded, Friday.