Located on the central coast of British Columbia (BC), Bella Bella, with a population of nearly 1,500 people, is a First Nations community on Campbell Island home to the Heiltsuk Nation. With over 2,400 members, the Heiltsuk population has grown steadily over the past 20 years, but the population of Bella Bella has remained relatively constant, due to the lack of available housing.
Many of the Heiltsuk people who live outside the community are interested in returning to the village as the local economy continues to grow, but in order to meet housing demand over the next 10 years, the community will need 150 mold remediations, 160 home renovations, 100 new homes, and 120 new lots. In particular, there are no culturally- and environmentally-suitable home designs available to the Heiltsuk community.
To address the urgent housing shortage issue, the Heiltsuk Tribal Council has partnered with FPInnovations, the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and the Faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia (UBC) as well as with Mitacs, and together they have engaged with the community and have highlighted a potentially suitable housing option: ‘tiny homes’ (<500sq feet). Although the concept has been around since the 1970s, the inherent design of these homes has rarely been developed with, for, and by indigenous communities. This pilot project is developing long-term, culturally-focused ‘tiny homes’ to provide an independent living style to individuals, couples, and even young families within the Heiltsuk community.
FPInnovations and UBC are providing support in the following areas:
- Co-developing a tiny home design that is reflective of cultural and personal context for Indigenous peoples (specific to the Heiltsuk First Nation and their traditions) and that are environmentally appropriate for the Bella Bella location,
- Identifying multi-focused sustainability indicators that assess the impacts of constructed homes (before, during, and after),
- Planning and use of local timber for housing construction,
- Construction of four ‘tiny homes’ in Bella Bella,
- Enhancing socio-economic conditions that are associated with community housing (e.g. skills training programs, job and business development, housing governance and community policy),
- Creating ‘better’ practice and replicability guidance for pilot housing program, and
- Performing a post-occupancy analysis of housing designs and long-term ‘liveability’.
To learn more about this project or FPInnovations’ Indigenous Forestry program, please contact Dave McRae, FPInnovations’ National Indigenous Leader, or visit http://indigenousforestry.fpinnovations.ca/.