Hundreds gathered Sept. 30 to celebrate the newly completed Habitat for Humanity Sunshine Coast Village duplex and to welcome the two families set to move in. It’s the first duplex in a project that will ultimately see seven built to house 14 families in need of affordable housing on the Coast.
The final goal is far from realized, but Habitat for Humanity Sunshine Coast felt it was important to pause and celebrate this first milestone, especially considering it took five years of work and over 50,000 volunteer hours to get to this point.
“None of it would happen without the support of the community in the first place. It’s an entirely volunteer run project,” said Deb Pepper, Habitat for Humanity Sunshine Coast public relations person.
“Over the last five years, I’m sure there were 10,000 volunteers who participated, so it was a celebration of community participation, community generosity.”
Guests at the event were treated to music by Bad to the Bow and the Billy Hillpickers, tours of the new duplex, food from street vendors, balloons and entertainment for the children, as well as a blessing of the duplex and speeches by local governments and others involved in the build.
“The District of Sechelt is a proud supporter of affordable housing for our community, and we are pleased to have assisted Habitat in the development process of this bold and complex project,” said Sechelt Mayor John Henderson at the event. “Projects such as these increase civic pride, strengthen community identity and contribute to economic prosperity — particularly for those families who directly benefit — and make Sechelt a more attractive place to live, work and play.”
The Sunshine Coast Village sits just off Highway 101 in Wilson Creek. Habitat for Humanity Sunshine Coast acquired the land five years ago from a local family who gave them “a phenomenally good price,” Pepper said.
“Since then it took a couple of years of just site development, working with the District of Sechelt, the Sunshine Coast Regional District, the Sechelt Indian Band and the Ministry of Transportation and Highways to work out things like services, where the roads would go, where the water would come in, how to cross over the stream. There was a lot of site development stuff going on for the first three years.”
The last two years have been focused on building the first duplex, which was framed by students in School District No. 46.
“We have an incredibly wonderful collaborative relationship with School District No. 46 and their ACE-IT carpentry program,” Pepper said.
She explained students enrolled in the course frame one duplex for Habitat for Humanity Sunshine Coast each year, resulting in training and certification for the students and a framed house for Habitat.
“So it’s a wonderful situation in that the foundation for their careers as carpenters begins with us, and the foundations for our homes begin with them,” Pepper said.
While the first home is now complete, students have already framed a second duplex and Habitat is seeking skilled trades people to help turn it into a home for two more families. The hope is to have those families ready to move in by the spring of 2013.
“We are in serious need of skilled trades people — carpenters, painters, electricians, plumbers, any tradesperson who can volunteer,” Pepper said.
If you can help, call the Habitat for Humanity ReStore at 604-885-6773.
Donating to or buying from the ReStore is another way the public can help get the second duplex built. The Re-Store is the number one way Habitat funds their work at the Sunshine Coast Village site. The store on Highway 101 in Sechelt takes donations of furniture and building materials and then sells them at a profit. This year the ReStore is expected to net $150,000 for Habitat.
Recycling is the second biggest income generator for Habitat. Donations of bottles and cans bring in $50,000 to $60,000 annually. Donations can be dropped off at the Habitat for Humanity bins behind the Sunshine Coast Employment Centre in Sechelt.
Pepper said public support of these initiatives is key to their success at the Sunshine Coast Village: “None of it is possible without the public. We count on their support, and we are so grateful for it,” she said.
To find out more about Habitat for Humanity Sunshine Coast, including how to apply for one of their affordable homes, go to www.habitatsc.ca or call the ReStore.