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Houses on the move as recycling movement picks up momentum in Oak Bay

Nickel Bros. relocates houses across the south coast, moving more than 100 in 2021
Nickel Bros. move a home from the 600-block of Oliver Street in Oak Bay on June 14. (Photo by Erik Otto)

Recycling houses remains a popular option, with several moving out of Oak Bay this summer.

The manager of sales and estimating for Nickel Bros. Southern Vancouver Island says a pair that moved through the streets in June drew many onlookers and at least one other is set to roll out in July.

The Oliver cottage, as Jim Connolly calls it, swung through the streets the night of June 14 and was one of two homes manoeuvred through the community to the water’s edge.

It joined an impressive two-storey home that had spent some barge time near Willows Beach where a home moved from Musgrave was loaded before the barge made its way to McNeill Bay for the Oliver cottage.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Oak Bay mansion boats to Shirley

Built in the late 1920s, the home is the twin of a house the same company moved off an adjoining lot in the 600-block of Oliver five years ago. This one is bound for a San Juan Island to serve as a rental on a farm.

Proximity deems the San Juan and Gulf Islands (north and south) the most desirable places for recycled homes. They also move from places such as Vancouver and Victoria to Comox, Courtenay, Sooke, Mill Bay and Shawnigan. Last year alone Nickel Bros. moved 20 houses to Gabriola Island. It was among well over 100 moves the company did in 2021 across the south coast of B.C., Connolly said.

The work began around 9 p.m. on the Musgrave move, but neighbourhoods are generally keen to watch as older homes make moves. “There are always people that come forward and tell stories,” he said. The crowds are always pleasant, and he’s been doing the work for three decades.

“We appreciate that people like what we do there.”

READ ALSO: With no takers to move old Oak Bay home, teardown begins

The homes are like good furniture, built for forever, not for sale, for livability, not marketability, Connolly said.

“These houses are profoundly good, especially in Oak Bay.”

While recycling is gaining popularity as a cost-effective alternative to demolition, it’s also becoming more challenging because of traffic infrastructure changes with beautification and traffic calming measures eliminating some corridors.

“Every project is a little different even though the logistics are similar, the piece is different,” Connolly said.

Oak Bay is among the communities where municipal staff are proactive and see ways to help clear paths. There are several set routes in the community, still more than half the homes they’d like to move, or owners ask to recycle, just can’t logistically.

They move buildings all year round, but winter weather can be a hindrance as they watch wind and tides.

READ ALSO: Another older home leaves Oak Bay


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