Here’s an interesting solution to an island’s housing problem: floating micro-homes

Bowen Island's USSC Marina wants to build six duplex-style houses along its dinghy dock for its staff

This past July, in the height of the tourist season, Doc Morgan’s pub on Bowen Island had to close every Thursday.

It didn’t have enough staff to stay open seven days a week. And one of the reasons it couldn’t find enough staff is that staff couldn’t find affordable housing on the island.

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“I was just scratching my head thinking about how we could find more housing, and then I turned on the television and saw this show about micro-homes,” says Oydis Nickle, whose family owns both the pub and USSC Marina in Snug Cove. “We started discussing the idea and realized that the dock we are currently using for dinghies could be the perfect location. We don’t have to break ground so it would be much easier than construction on land.”

Nickle’s father, Rondy Dike, is an architect who designed the marina, which provides the scenic backdrop for people arriving on the 20-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay.

He came up with a design for six floating duplex-style homes with 270 square feet of living space on 16 by 40 ft. floats.

“They would be ideal for a single person, and getting stable, affordable housing for our staff would be incredibly helpful,” Nickle told the Bowen Island Undercurrent.

USSC Marina clubhouse
The duplexes would be built along USSC Marina's dinghy dock, bottom left, next to its floating office and clubhouse.

“It is critical for us to get this done before next summer,” says Rondy Dike. “Out of our 65 employees this summer only four were home owners and only nine drove or had access to a car to come into work. Now, even though the summer’s over, we still have four employees in need of permanent housing.”

Even now that the summer rush is over, the family says there is still the need for inexpensive housing. Nickle add that she sees the housing needs carrying over into the winter.

“There are a lot of contractors from off-island looking for places to stay,” she says. “Last year, we housed several for weeks at a time.”

The units would be made from pre-fabricated panels and assembled on-site. Each unit would have its own built-in wastewater system, which Dike says has been approved elsewhere for use on lakes.

They are hoping that these 12 units could be rented out for $800 per month.

The proposal is being considered by Bowen Island’s municipal council. If council gives the go-ahead, the marina hopes to have the first one built by next summer.

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