A former Oak Bay home finds a new space as part of a pocket community in Friday Harbour.

A former Oak Bay home finds a new space as part of a pocket community in Friday Harbour.

Oak Bay houses find new American life

Seven barged homes (five more to follow) from Oak Bay and Victoria are finding new life in special neighbourhood in Friday Harbour.

Is it building green? Is it affordable housing? Is it celebrating a vibrant community?

Kat, a massage therapist and her partner, Adam, an employee at the Friday Harbour ACE Hardware Store on San Juan Island, Washington State are celebrating all three as they prepare to move into their first home.

Seven barged homes (five more to follow) from Oak Bay and Victoria are finding new life in this special “pocket” neighbourhood in Friday Harbour. As a young couple excited to be moving into their first home, Kat and Adam are delighted that the 70-plus year old home from Cavendish Avenue in Oak Bay is soon to be theirs.

No waste or old growth fir is headed to a landfill somewhere and the original stucco, filled with broken seashells, has been saved and supplemented to finish off the part of the home that was damaged during transport. The fir floors and windows and doors are all original.

Once situated on its new foundation,  the house was made safe and livable for the next 70 years by replacing the knob and tube wiring, updating the plumbing and remodelling the kitchen. Contemporary paint colors were chosen for the interior finishes making the home welcoming and uniquely their own.

Finished homes built or remodeled by the San Juan Island Community Homes Trust, cost from $150,000 up. The land is owned by the trust and when owners move on, the home remains affordable and becomes home for another couple or family from the community. Green space is shared by all, making the new community an instant community.

Friends and neighbours and extended family members all pitch in to finish the homes. Kat’s dad contributed his tiling expertise to the final details of the kitchen and bathroom remodel.

On Sunday, July 17 community members joined together to celebrate with Kat and Adam and the other families who will soon be moving into their new homes and to raise $35,000 towards the purchase of the next two barged homes. Nearly 200 people came together to raise the money through a silent and a live auction and dinner and dancing under the stars.

Jan Mears

Oak Bay