As part of his first visit outside Metro Vancouver since becoming B.C.’s minister for housing, Ravi Kahlon toured a Kamloops facility Wednesday specializing in modular construction.
Kahlon said modular units are part of the solution to getting important housing projects built quickly, including those providing shelter to vulnerable people.
“When people are housed, it means the community is safer,” Kahlon said.
“And that's been our priority for us, getting housing online as fast as we can, getting these units up so that people can be indoors, get the supports they need to get them back on their feet, get their lives back in order.”
Kahlon said NRB Modular Solutions has been building modular units for the provincial government in municipalities across B.C.
According to the province, units for three of BC Housing’s supportive housing projects in Kamloops have been built by NRB Modular Solutions. The company has also constructed an office for Secwepemc Child and Family Services, and seniors housing for the Kamloops Indian Band, among other projects across B.C.
“We're seeing these projects come on much faster, having very little waste. And they look beautiful,” Kahlon said, noting that NRB Modular Solutions’ own Kamloops office is a permanent modular building.
According to NRB, it takes about a month to build a modular unit, and the Kamloops facility completes about two modules per day.
“This is part of the solution — there’s all types of solutions,” Kahlon said.
“But in the end, my message today and tomorrow, and in the weeks ahead, will be that we need two important things from everyone, all elected officials — we’re going to need leadership, and we're going to need empathy. We need to ensure that we're showing leadership in our communities, showing people that taking care of these vulnerable people is an important thing.”
Kahlon said the conversations he’s been having with elected officials, not-for-profits and BC Housing have focused on the importance of getting people housed. He noted when people are housed, they can focus on addressing other challenges such as trauma, addiction or mental health.
“Let's get permanent housing online. Let’s find ways to move the process faster so we can have people housed. But we also have other challenges that are pushing more people into desperate situations,” Kahlon said.
“Kamloops has some of the lowest vacancy rates in the province, we have to find ways to get more housing online so people have the ability to have rental housing available so that they're not becoming more vulnerable to being homeless and living on the streets.”
Kahlon said Wednesday’s trip to Kamloops marked his first visit outside of Metro Vancouver since becoming minister of housing.
He said his visit included meetings with not-for-profit providers supporting vulnerable people in the area, and said he would be meeting with Kamloops Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson later on Wednesday.