Squamish company wins top provincial award for innovation

Westcoast Outbuildings pairs with Yale First Nation to build affordable housing

It is no secret Squamish entrepreneurs are uniquely innovative, but it is nice to see one of our own recognized.

Westcoast Outbuildings, located in Northyards, and Yale First Nation won first place in the "Active Housing Innovation" category in the Reframe Housing Competition launched by Urban Matters CCC and the BC Non-Profit Housing Association.

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The Squamish modular house builder and the First Nation are working to build more effective, durable and energy efficient housing on the Yale reserve.

"There's a real lack of supply in the market for First Nations housing," said Geoff Baker, West Coast Outbuildings partner and co-founder. Baker said his company put together a deal with BMO, which covers 100 per cent of the total project financing.

The mortgages are guaranteed by each community and at a minimum, the costs are covered by the monthly rental revenue-based shelter housing payment for someone on social assistance.

"Indigenous communities are now able to provide housing without having to go for federal or provincial grants," Baker added.

The Outbuilding homes for the Yale Nation are built on a base platform that is 4.3 metres wide and 18 metres long.

That platform can configured three different ways. Three one-bedroom units; two two-bedroom units or one four-bedroom unit — all on the same footprint.

In addition to bragging rights, the prize for first place includes $10,000 and an opportunity to partner with Urban Matters CCC to continue to develop and scale the innovation already underway at the Squamish company.

Westcoast Outbuildings moved to Squamish one year ago and currently has 35 local employees.

Building projects underway include housing for First Nations, recreational cabins, a six-module daycare for Courtenay and replacing the Hornby Island school that burned down, Baker said.

For more on the company, go to www.outbuildings.ca.

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