Carpentry students nail down support for homeless

Camosun students construct micro-house for Our Place Society

Camosun carpentry students stand in front of the prototype micro-home they constructed for Our Place Society. Architectural Trades chair Al van Akker believes that with appropriate funding and planning

Camosun carpentry students are putting their skills to work to tackle homelessness in Greater Victoria. Over the past several weeks, a student team has been busy constructing an 8×10-foot prototype micro-house for Choices Transitional Home, run by Our Place Society.

“It is a great fit for us in the carpentry department because every Level 1 apprentice and every foundation student needs to build a floor, walls and a roof in order to satisfy the practical competencies of the program,” said Camosun’s Architectural Trades chair Al van Akker. “If we build micro-houses, we will achieve all of our curricular requirements, and could make a measurable contribution to the most needy in our community.”

With appropriate funding and planning, van Akker says that Camosun carpentry students could construct up to 100 micro-houses per year.

“Right now at Choices, there are 30 tents in their courtyard. We’d like to replace those with micro-houses, which will be a lot more suitable for the wet and cold weather that will be coming in a few months.”

Our Place executive director Don Evans agrees. “We are thrilled to have the micro-house prototype constructed by Camosun students at Choices,” he says. “I see micro-houses as a viable option for people experiencing homelessness because they are cost effective and take up little space. There can be opportunities to place them in different locations such as church parking lots or vacant land.”

The micro-house solution is not a permanent one, but it can provide a bridge between a tent in a park and a permanent home. A similar initiative at Opportunity Villiage in Eugene, Ore. has proven successful at addressing homelessness and related issues in that community.

Evans envisions an important role for the Choices facility as part of a lasting solution to homelessness here in Greater Victoria.

“For the next eight months, Choices will be used for transitioning people from the street into permanent housing. Over the long term, we would like to see Choices developed into a recovery centre for people struggling with mental health and addictions,” he says.

Choices Transitional Home in View Royal was opened by Our Place in February 2016 to provide housing for 50 homeless people who were previously living at the tent city on the lawn of the provincial courthouse. The repurposed facility provides both indoor and outdoor housing options.

Our Place is a unique inner-city community centre serving Greater Victoria’s most vulnerable: working poor, impoverished elderly, mentally and physically challenged, addicted and the homeless. They serve over 1,600 meals per day and provide hot showers, free clothing, counseling and outreach services, plus 45 transitional housing units.

Volunteers, financial and clothing donations are always needed. “We are also looking for sponsors of the new micro-houses,” notes Evans. “Cost is about $2,000 per home.”


To donate, visit: For more information about Camosun’s carpentry program, visit



Just Posted

Hundreds rally in support of horse carriages outside Victoria City Hall

Crowd angry with Coun. Ben Isitt’s motion to ban local horse carriage industry

New virgin queen headlines ‘Bee Day’ at Saanich sanctuary

Taste bee spit and check out the hive at Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary this Sunday

Rifflandia Festival cancelled for 2019

Early Bird tickets can be refunded at point of purchase, or held and redeemed for 2020

Five-month bridge closure poses early impacts on drivers during rush hour

Construction began Tuesday on the crossing commonly known as the Bay Street bridge

Several hundred SD 62 students team up to clean the shoreline

Effort aimed at keeping Esquimalt and Albert Head Lagoon trash-free

VIDEO: Canadian, U.S. Coast guards run oil spill response drills

20 vessels were on the water to practice international response methods

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 to move within 1 game of NBA Finals

Leonard scores 35 as Toronto takes 3-2 series lead over Milwaukee

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses review around ferry workers’ right to strike

B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union collective agreement expires November 2020

Young Victoria distillery earns prestigious Scotch awards

Scottish influences range from techniques to ‘kilted tours’ at award-winning business

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana crops ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

CMHC defends mortgage stress test changes amid calls for loosening rules

Uninsured borrowers must now show they could service their mortgage if rates rose two per cent

Brewpub offers ‘boat valet’ for paddlers during Surfrider celebration tonight

Free ‘Surf Formal’ evening features a local art auction, door prizes, live music

Most Read