Posted by Morgan Hampton | Mar 8, 2022 | News, Trending | 0
Following a devastating flood that saw thousands of people evacuated from the city and hundreds of homes damaged, the City of Merritt is looking to get creative when it comes to interim housing solutions.
“We had a housing crisis before the floods and the flood has only deteriorated this much further,” said Andrew Nielsen, Housing Coordinator for the City of Merritt during a Public Information Session on March 3.
Although roughly 900 people remain displaced, the estimated number of homes considered a total loss is around 100, with approximately 57 of those being mobile homes. Footage of one such mobile home floating first down the Coldwater and then Nicola River was widely circulated on social media in the days following the flooding.
“Our goal is to bring 100 new homes into Merritt in the coming months,” said Nielsen.
Six potential sites have been considered by the City for this purpose.
“Our first priority was of course temporary, short term housing,” said Nielsen.
Site 1 and 2 off of Douglas St. were put forward as an ideal location for oilfield, camp style housing. As it was near both the downtown and the flood impacted areas, residents would have access to necessities and be located not far from their damaged homes.
“Unfortunately, this proposal was unsuccessful in funding from the province,” said Nielsen, although the reason for this was not mentioned during the Information Session.
Site 3, a 1.1ha strip of property near Quilchena Ave., will be utilized for small footprint, 3D printed homes, created in partnership with the University of British Columbia (UBC).
“Our goal is to use a 3D printer that can produce homes about 600 square feet in size, so they would be classified as a tiny home,” said Nielsen.
“The printer is able to produce these homes at a rate of about one every 48 hours using just a printer and a crew of one to two people.”
A similar structure was constructed near Nelson, BC, and is the world’s first 3D printed concrete tiny home on Airbnb.
The 3D printed tiny homes would meet many of the National Housing Strategy principles by being net zero, highly insulated and have the ability to be supplemented with solar energy, if necessary.
The City hopes to have 18 to 20 of these homes completed this year.
Site 4, off of Voght St. near the Coldwater River is currently being reviewed by the City.
Site 5, next to the Diamondvale Mobile Home Park, has been selected as a potential new neighbourhood. Development work was started in the area roughly eight years ago, meaning water, sewer, and natural gas services are available. The City hopes to work with the landowners, the province and a modular home company to bring 40 homes online in this neighbourhood, beginning this summer.
Site 6 is the Diamondvale Mobile Home Park, which currently has 41 sites available for mobile homes. “It would go a long way to replacing or adding to the Merritt inventory of the 57 mobile homes that were lost in the flood,” said Neilsen.
Alternatively, the park can support roughly 80 RV camper trailer units, which is a form of housing the City is encouraging residents to utilize as a means of coping with the housing shortage.
In addition, much of the city is zoned R2, which would allow for a laneway or carriage home.
“I encourage you to work with building services to find something that works on your lot,” said Neilsen.
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