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Port Moody home relocation project means more memories can be made

Ten homes are being moved from the old Coronation Park neighbourhood in Port Moody

Wendy Kinloch’s realtor questioned her sanity 34 years ago when she and her husband purchased the run-down rancher at 120 Windsor Dr. In Port Moody’s Coronation Park neighbourhood.

The single-storey home with a round fireplace in the middle of the living room had seen better days. But it offered more space to raise a family than their cramped townhouse in North Vancouver

“We knew it needed a lot of love,” said Kinloch.

Over the years, it got just that.

Almost every interior wall was rebuilt. The sundeck out back was replaced. The kitchen and bathrooms were renovated.

The house with green wood siding returned that love.

The Kinlochs raised two children there, and the myriad of their friends and visitors, who climbed the growing trees in the neighbourhood, ran through the sprinkler in the yard, drew with chalk on the street out front. They made connections with their neighbours, got involved in the community at Coronation Park School nearby.

“We looked out for each other,” Kinloch said. “It was just the greatest neighbourhood.”

So when Kinloch attended a special ceremony Tuesday, April 2, in front of her old home, which will be one of 10 from Coronation Park being sent by truck and barge to a second life for families in the shishalh Nation near Sechelt, she was sure to pack plenty of tissues.

The homes are in the way of a new development project by Vancouver-based Wesgroup Properties that will transform the 14.8-acre neighbourhood into a dense, urban community with six residential high-rises up to 31 stories, three six-storey buildings and a four-storey office building.

While 49 homes will be demolished, a deal to save some of the homes was brokered by a company called Renewal Development in conjunction with Wesgroup and Maple Ridge-based Nickel Bros. that has more than 50 years experience moving buildings.

Kinloch, who relocated to a new home in Anmore last October, said knowing her home has received a second lease on life made it easier to return to her former neighbourhood where several houses have already been cleared and many trees removed.

She said it's like a circle of life. “I didn’t want to come back to this neighbourhood to see it demolished.”

Renewal Development’s Glyn Lewis, said the transportation of the first two homes scheduled to take place overnight tonight is the closure of one chapter and the opening of the next.

“It’s a beautiful story.”

Lewis has been working on his plan to reclaim and repurpose homes in the way of redevelopment for about seven years. He said with the increasing cost of new construction and the environmental toll of demolition, it makes sense to recycle structurally sound buildings.

After a couple of successful projects moving a home from Coquitlam to Upper Gibsons and an old single-room schoolhouse from Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood to the Squamish Nation where it’s been converted into a children’s education centre, it was time to scale up and put the lessons learned through those two ventures into practice. He said he’s hopeful the project will help change the fate of the approximately 2,700 homes that are demolished in Metro Vancouver every year.

“Intention and thoughtfulness can shape the direction of change,” Lewis said.

Lenora Joe, the chief of the shishalh Nation, said her community is excited to be at the leading edge of that change.

Almost half the 1,600 people that comprise the shishalh aren’t able to live in the community because of its dearth of suitable and affordable housing; 200 families are on a waiting list to get new homes.

Reclaiming and moving homes is 30 to 70 per cent cheaper than constructing them new. And robust mid-century construction materials and techniques ensure the homes the shishalh are getting will last for generations to come, Joe said.

That continuity is important, she added.

“For us, it’s a new place,” Joe said. “But we’re also able to honour the history of the homes and respect that process.”

Darlene Hadden, whose home at 109 Windsor is another on the move to the shishalh Nation, said being able to see it welcomed elsewhere helps ease the emotional sting of leaving it behind.

Hadden said the house her family called home for almost 40 years was the epicentre for Christmas, birthday and wedding celebrations. Its walls contain memories of her two kids stealthily jumping out their windows so they could play in the expansive yard and forbidden skateboard adventures up and down the street.

“A house we loved, someone else will be able to love,” she said. “It means everything.”

The first two homes begin their travels at about 11 p.m. tonight (April 2). You can follow their journey on Renewal Development’s website.