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Hiyam Housing

Hiyam Housing

Bringing Rapid And Affordable Housing to Squamish Nation Members Through Modular Construction

Christine Thalita

A Vision for Generational Housing Equity

In 2019, the Hiy̓ám̓ Housing Society, established by the Sḵwxwú7mesh Nation Council, embarked on the ambitious Bringing Squamish People Home initiative—a commitment to providing housing for every Squamish person within a generation. This visionary response aims to address the enduring impact of historical and contemporary colonial policies by establishing healing pathways rooted in culture, land-based programming, and de-colonizing practices. The initiative, set to deliver 1,000 much-needed, equitable, and affordable housing units, represents a significant step towards reducing barriers and reuniting Squamish community members with their home.

Kindred, honored with the role of trusted builder, has been actively contributing to this transformative initiative. Collaborating with Hiyam Housing, Lu’ma Development, Dialog, and NUQO Modular, Kindred is currently delivering 82 modular-built residential units across two projects: Estítkw Place in Capilano, North Vancouver, and Esḵéḵxwi7ch tl’a Sp’áḵw’us Place in Seaichem, Squamish. The completion of Estítkw Place in September 2023 marked a significant milestone, with Esḵéḵxwi7ch tl’a Sp’áḵw’us Place scheduled for completion in January 2024.

Crafting Cultural Havens for the Squamish Nation

These developments were thoughtfully crafted with a focus on mitigating the impact of historical and contemporary colonial policies. Designed to meet the specific cultural and functional needs of the end-users, each project embraces culturally rooted healing pathways, land-based programming, and de-colonizing practices. Estítkw Place, offering 55 units, prioritizes supportive housing for vulnerable Sḵwxwú7mesh Nation members, addressing the needs of those with disabilities, 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals, people experiencing homelessness, and those dealing with mental health and substance use issues. The integrated approach at Estítkw Place includes extensive programs for mental health and wellness services, substance abuse and harm reduction support, medical care, and community embrace.

Esḵéḵxwi7ch tl’a Sp’áḵw’us Place in Seaichem stands as a sanctuary, providing a 27-unit residence for Nation women and their children at risk of homelessness. With adaptable apartments and diverse amenities, this development ensures accessibility and full adaptability, promoting a long-term home for its residents. From cultural artistic references to commercial-grade kitchens to fish cleaning stations, both developments incorporate dedicated spaces reflecting and promoting the unique cultural identity of the Squamish people.

Achieving Rapid Delivery of Housing Units for the Nation

With a clear focus on rapid delivery of these housing units to the Nation, we adopted an integrated design approach with the project partners which allowed each party to be actively engaged during the early design stages. This was key for delivering the buildings within 12-14 months from the start of construction. Participating in the design phase allowed us to have a proactive stance for building out the scope of work, identifying potential gaps, anticipating and planning the third-party fulfillment schedules, and implementing robust quality control processes.

In addition to integrated design, modular and pre-fabrication were game changing construction strategies that allowed us to deliver these developments within this timeframe. Working closely with NUQO and Dialog, we coordinated the design and prefabrication of the modules with stringent communication and quality control processes to deliver structurally robust modules that would withstand the transportation from Alberta to BC, as well as the craning lifting for the assembly.

While modular construction and pre-fabrication significantly contributed to the accelerated build time, it’s important to note that the 12-14 month timeline deviated from the industry’s typical norms. Rigorous organization and communication processes were paramount to align all project contributors, from the client to suppliers and trades, with the demanding schedule.  Anticipating lead times and proactive management and coordination of trade schedules and offsite services, such as water and electricity connections, were critical for ensuring there were no delays. Modular construction is still relatively new in BC, and the industry is still going through the learning curve of adapting to its processes, timelines, and requirements. The core success factor in these projects was the early involvement of the primary contributors where the project teams were able fully immerse themselves in the shared vision, understand the client’s goals, build a strong baseline of planning and coordination before even breaking ground. This proactive approach enabled the team to navigate challenges effectively, providing swift solutions to minimize any impact on schedules.

Nurturing Community, Culture, and Innovation Through Construction

Kindred’s role in the Bring Squamish Home initiative goes beyond construction; it represents our commitment to community, culture, and innovation. The success of these developments lies not only in their cultural sensitivity but also in the innovative strategies adopted for their rapid delivery, and the synergy created with the project partners. As the Squamish Nation moves closer to realizing their goal of bringing every member home, this initiative and its success exemplify a powerful model for addressing housing needs with cultural sensitivity and efficiency. We are proud to have contributed to this important and visionary goal for the Squamish people, as well as the advancement of modular construction in BC.

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