Nanaimo - 702 Nicol Street – Supportive Housing

Illustration of supportive housing


BC Housing owns the vacant property at 702 Nicol Street and intends to build new permanent, purpose-built housing, plus shelter space. This building will offer approximately 50 new homes with supports for men and women who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Nanaimo. Bridge to Housing spaces are also being proposed for approximately 10-15 women in need. Bridge to Housing provides beds, showers and meals, in addition to many of the same 24/7 support services typical of permanent supportive housing. Island Crisis Care Society will operate this new building.

All new supportive housing buildings in the province have around-the-clock staffing to help young people, people with disabilities, seniors and others in critical need of housing. Island Crisis Care Society, an experienced local provider, would manage day-to-day operations of the supportive housing at the site and provide supports to tenants. Supports include medical and mental health and addictions services, as well as food, laundry, and security. All residents will pay rent.

Virtual Neighbourhood Meeting

BC Housing and its partners hosted online virtual neighbourhood meetings on July 28, to share information about the plan for 702 Nicol Street, answer questions and collect community feedback with the public. Please view video recording of the event below.

You can also view the presentation from the neighbourhood meeting, and send questions and feedback through the Q&A tool below. We welcome your feedback.

Community Advisory Committee

We will be looking at setting up a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) with representatives from BC Housing, the housing operator, other partners, community organizations and community members. We will also be working with local neighbourhood groups and stakeholders to successfully integrate the new buildings and residents into the community.



BC Housing owns the vacant property at 702 Nicol Street and intends to build new permanent, purpose-built housing, plus shelter space. This building will offer approximately 50 new homes with supports for men and women who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Nanaimo. Bridge to Housing spaces are also being proposed for approximately 10-15 women in need. Bridge to Housing provides beds, showers and meals, in addition to many of the same 24/7 support services typical of permanent supportive housing. Island Crisis Care Society will operate this new building.

All new supportive housing buildings in the province have around-the-clock staffing to help young people, people with disabilities, seniors and others in critical need of housing. Island Crisis Care Society, an experienced local provider, would manage day-to-day operations of the supportive housing at the site and provide supports to tenants. Supports include medical and mental health and addictions services, as well as food, laundry, and security. All residents will pay rent.

Virtual Neighbourhood Meeting

BC Housing and its partners hosted online virtual neighbourhood meetings on July 28, to share information about the plan for 702 Nicol Street, answer questions and collect community feedback with the public. Please view video recording of the event below.

You can also view the presentation from the neighbourhood meeting, and send questions and feedback through the Q&A tool below. We welcome your feedback.

Community Advisory Committee

We will be looking at setting up a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) with representatives from BC Housing, the housing operator, other partners, community organizations and community members. We will also be working with local neighbourhood groups and stakeholders to successfully integrate the new buildings and residents into the community.


Thank you for your interest in this project. Answers will be posted the week of Monday, October 26, 2020.

Have a question or comment? Please write below.

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  • How many non industry unique individuals took part in the virtual meetings

    Gord Fuller asked about 1 month ago

    BC Housing, the City of Nanaimo and their partners have held two virtual meetings for the proposed development at 702 Nicol Street. There were 62 individuals who participated.

  • I am a resident of the neighbourhood and have over 10 years experience working in supportive housing on Vancouver Island. I would love to see this program successful and integrated into this family-centric neighbourhood. I would like to be a part of the Advisory Committee for this project so that I can help both the program and neighbourhood can thrive

    Cassandra S asked about 2 months ago

    Hi Cassandra, 

    Thank you for your interest in seeing these new homes become successfully integrated into the community. We share your same wishes! Can you please email us at communityrelations@bchousing.org with your contact information and we can reach out to you further regarding your interest in the Community Advisory Committee (CAC). Once we have more information about the make-up and selection criteria for the CAC, we can let you know. Thank you! 

  • Will there be any visitor or guest policies in place? Trusting that there is a thorough selection process for tenants and the tenants themselves agree to abide by specific policies, how will non-tenants be managed if they do not abide by the policies that the tenants have agreed to? If there are not going to be an policies or restrictions around guests, will staffing levels reflect the potential for multiple unknown people in the building ?

    Cassandra S asked about 2 months ago

    Dear Cassandra,

    Thank you for submitting your questions. 

    A guest policy will be put in place at the new permanent, supportive housing proposed for 702 Nicol Street. The type of policy would depend on the needs of the housing and would be determined by the operator. Every site is different and is dependent on the input and feedback from the residents and the local Community Advisory Committee (CAC). For example, some sites do not currently have guests permitted based on the resident’s preference. Others have set hours or number of guests defined. 

    A minimum of 2 staff from the non-profit operator are on site at all times to support residents and will manage building access. During weekday hours, there may be up to 7 staff on site, including: 1 program manager, 2 support workers, 1 custodian, 1 food service worker, 1 outreach worker and 1 maintenance worker as well as other support staff. Vancouver Island Health will offer 2 mental health worker visits each day. 


  • How can we keep in contact or get involved if we have specific ideas regarding design, integration with existing traffic and roads, etc. Several of the closest neighbours along Strickland Street met recently and have some ideas that we would like to share with BC Housing.

    Sylvia asked 2 months ago

    Hi Sylvia, we appreciate your interest in the project and your specific ideas regarding design. We would certainly welcome the input. BC Housing’s development team will be starting design plans later this summer/early fall and someone from our development and operations teams will reach out to you in the near future. You can also write to us at communityrelations@bchousing.org to pass along ideas.

  • In my job I have to follow "industry best practices" and when there is a requirement to stray from the best practice, I have a requirement to get approval from the company architect. I have to convince him that I have exhausted all other options and I require an exception. He becomes accountable to the client as the approver the exception, and if things go sideways, he explains that we made every attempt to follow best practices but we were unable to. My questions are... Regarding the following: - Permanently housing 65 at risk people in one building (50 supported plus 15 shelter) - Permanently housing 105 at risk people in two buildings less than 3 blocks apart in a low-density residential neighbourhood, surrounding an elementary school and day care Are we following industry best practices? And if not, why? Did we exhaust all other options and this was the only choice? And if not, who is accountable for approving this exception when things go sideways?

    Dave asked 3 months ago

    Hi Dave. The proposed permanent, purpose-built, supportive housing development at 702 Nicol Street will provide approximately 50 new homes with supports for people at risk or experiencing homelessness, as well as approximately 10-15 “bridge to housing” beds for women in need. This new supportive and bridge to housing will be the replacement for the existing Samaritan House located at 355 Nicol street. The proposed supportive housing at 355 Nicol Street will see up to 40 homes for people experiencing homelessness in the community. 

    It is critical to remember that many kinds of people are at risk of experiencing homelessness in Nanaimo, including seniors, people with disabilities and families. There are many factors that contribute to people experiencing homelessness – substance use or mental health are not the only factors. We have been working as partners with many groups on housing solutions for the City of Nanaimo for a number of years, collaborating on best practices and learning from each other. BC Housing is a member of the City of Nanaimo’s Council-led Health and Housing Task Force, which has a mission to strengthen collaboration across organizations with varying mandates but a shared concern for community wellbeing. This Task Force includes representatives from government and non-governmental agencies that want to streamline efforts to prevent homelessness while reducing its impacts on health and safety.

    BC Housing has decades of experience in developing and implementing successful housing projects in communities, including in Nanaimo, with input and support from local neighbours. We also have a dedicated research team and have conducted extensive economic and social impact studies of supportive and rental housing that guides the planning of these developments. We invite you to have a look through some research related to community benefits of supportive housing on this page, which includes some information regarding supportive housing in proximity to schools. Many supportive housing sites across the province have been operating in their communities and near schools for 10+ years with no issues and with support from the community. There are over 210 provincially-funded supportive housing sites across the province that are within 500 metres of a school. 

    BC Housing’s Research Centre is making a positive impact in the industry by sharing knowledge and collaborating on housing solutions. Our ever-expanding body of work includes technical and socio-economic research to advance best practices and create a strong housing sector. We work with other levels of government, consumer and industry organizations, educational institutions, and non-profit housing providers. This collaborative approach allows us to carry out research projects and initiatives with impactful results to inform our decisions. Check out our recent research centre e-newsletter here: https://www.bchousing.org/research-centre-eNewsletter  

    We remain committed to driving forward housing solutions for the City of Nanaimo and will continue to listen to and dialogue with the community over the coming months with the goal of  successful integration of these new homes. 

  • I keep hearing that you are moving Samaritan House to 702 Nicol Street. From the ICCS website: Samaritan House provides four services to women in crisis: emergency shelter, supportive housing, transitional housing, and rent subsidies. • 14 Emergency Shelter Beds • 6 Supportive Housing Beds • 6 Transitional Beds The proposed use of 702 Nicol is 50 units (mixed gender) of supportive housing as well and 12-15 units of "bridging" shelter space for women only. Bridged to what? The mixed gender supportive units? If anything this sounds like a decrease to the space for the current clientele of Samaritan house. Haven't they been saying for years that Samaritan house has outgrown their space and needs more shelter beds for women?

    Dave asked 3 months ago

    Thanks for the question Dave. The proposed permanent, purpose-built, supportive housing development at 702 Nicol Street will provide approximately 50 new homes with supports for people at risk or experiencing homelessness, as well as approximately 10-15 “bridge to housing” beds for women in need. This new supportive and bridge to housing will be the replacement for the existing Samaritan House located at 355 Nicol street.  The supportive housing will be for men and women (as part of the proposed 50 units). The bridge to housing beds will be for women only. 

    The Samaritan House provides services to women in crisis, and it is our hope that BC Housing and Island Crisis Care Society can support those women with bridging to permanent housing solutions once they are able to stabilize themselves from crisis. Bridging refers to the process of applying for and receiving a designated shelter bed and being prioritized for supportive housing. Women from the Samaritan House will be able to continue accessing shelter temporarily until new supportive housing is built. Bridge to housing differs from a typical homeless shelter (such as the Unitarian Shelter on Townsite), as with the bridge to housing model, residents keep their beds and are not asked to leave during the day.  Within the bridge to housing model, residents are assessed by the operator and are not required to lineup before being permitted inside. 

    The landmark MOU between BC Housing and the City of Nanaimo will see a major investment in permanent housing in the community. The focus for the B.C. government is to bridge people to housing that helps them improve their well-being for the long-term. The MOU investment in 4 supportive housing and 3 affordable rental housing developments will increase the number of available homes for those who are experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness in Nanaimo, including residents of the Samaritan House. 

  • How will a project like this affect the business and residents around the development? What sort of economic and social impacts are we to expect?

    Aohan asked 3 months ago

    Thank you for your interest. BC Housing has conducted extensive research related to economic and social impacts of supportive housing. Overall, studies show the cost of providing supportive housing is less than the cost of providing the health and public safety services needed to address homelessness. Some of that research can be found in our document library on this page. 

    2018 B.C. studies showed that every dollar invested in supportive housing creates four to five dollars in social and/or economic value:

    • Government realizes about half of the savings from decreased use of services

    • Neighbourhoods benefit from improved well-being and increased local spending

    We have also developed a series of case studies regarding social return on investment (SROI) in the development of purpose-built supportive housing. You can review the case studies on our website at: https://www.bchousing.org/research-centre/library/tools-for-developing-social-housing/sroi-analysis-dedicated-site-supportive-housing&sortType=sortByDate  

    We have posted links to the other social and economic impact research on this page to the right.  

    It is important to note that once in a supportive housing unit, individuals are no longer homeless, which provides positive impacts to community well-being. It is our hope that we can work together to ensure successful integration of these new homes to create safer, stronger and inclusive communities.     

  • How is placing many supportive housing units in a small geographical being touted as a housing first model? This is misinformed and leads the geneal public to believe that scattered housing and services is not part of the model, which it is. This contravenes the gov't of canada recommendations.i have attached a link, please explain why #5 was not adhered tohttps://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/homelessness/resources/housing-first.html

    Rhonda Leigh asked 3 months ago

    The new permanent, purpose-built supportive housing and affordable rental housing developments under the new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Nanaimo and BC Housing represents a major investment in housing in the City of Nanaimo.  However, they are not the only developments underway or completed in Nanaimo. BC Housing and the City of Nanaimo have developed other supportive housing properties located out of the South End including supportive housing at 1597 Boundary Crescent and at 6025 Uplands Drive (Uplands Walk). 

    Research has shown that the “Housing First” model, of which BC Housing’s Supportive Housing approach incorporates, is needed to ensure people can achieve and maintain housing stability. The supportive housing model is unique in that all residents in supportive housing have made a choice to live there and are able to access the services provided by non-profit housing operators, such as life-skills training, and connections to primary health care, mental health and/or harm reduction services, and employment and life-skills programming. The Housing First model increases the likelihood of people succeeding in treatment and in stabilizing their lives – once someone moves into supportive housing, they are no longer homeless, and can focus on improving their well-being. 

    It is our hope that with a stronger understanding of this housing model, a stronger understanding of the community need and diversification of projects throughout the region, as well as the strong support services being offered including medical and clinical services, people will see the benefits of housing people while addressing their support needs. 


  • Why would you put a shelter in the middle of a single family neighborhood, with no service in the area ?

    Sandy asked 3 months ago

    Thank you for your interest in the new permanent, purpose-built, supportive housing development at 702 Nicol Street. This building will offer approximately 50 new permanent studio homes with supports for people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Nanaimo. “Bridge to Housing” beds are also being proposed for approximately 10-15 women.

    We are proposing to use a Bridge to Housing model for women at the 702 Nicol site as a type of shelter model similar to what is currently offered by the Samaritan House at 355 Nicol Street. While Bridge to Housing has similar features to a temporary shelter offering beds, showers and meals, it will also provide many of the same 24/7 support services typical of permanent supportive housing. This is an important first step to support people into housing. The goal would be to bring women inside and to help them transition to more stable and permanent housing options.

    The new homes will come with 24/7 staff support.  We partner with health authorities to ensure staff are regularly onsite to provide a range of inpatient and outpatient services to building residents. Services encompass mental health and substance use, including treatment services, primary care and public health services, employment and life-skills programming. 

  • Is BC housing paying for rooms in the value hotel just south of this site. If so how many as we would like to get an idea of the foot traffic. That would increase . We in the neighborhood are scared for safety as many folks are trying to get a few more bucks for there drugs.

    Lee Penner asked 3 months ago

    Hi Lee,

    Approximately 30 hotel rooms in Nanaimo have been confirmed in various locations that will be supported by Island Health and community service providers, as a response to support those with COVID-19 symptoms and/or increased health vulnerabilities and those at risk of adverse health outcomes related to COVID-19. The designated isolation sites are being kept confidential to ensure that they can be effectively managed to support safety, privacy, and confidential health needs. This temporary initiative is part of the Province’s collective efforts to prevent the community spread of the virus.  

    The proposed development at 702 Nicol Street is part of a major investment in permanent housing in the City of Nanaimo. These developments will provide needed homes to members of the community, including seniors, families, people with disabilities, and those at risk of, or experiencing homelessness. 

    It is important to remember that there are many factors that contribute to people experiencing homelessness – substance use or mental health are not the only factors. These might include lack of available affordable housing/cost of living, eviction, unsafe housing conditions, loss of job, inability to pay for rent/mortgage and food, traumatic life events, family violence/abuse, physical health issues, etc. 

    We need to work together to ensure successful integration of these new homes to create safer communities. The new supportive housing at 702 Nicol Street will see the establishment of a Community Advisory Committee to mitigate and address any related concerns that come forward, with representation from BC Housing, City Bylaw, Vancouver Island Health Authority, RCMP, local businesses, community organizations and community members. We encourage local neighbours like yourself to become involved in the Committee so we can work together to build a strong and inclusive community. 

    Please view the recorded virtual information session regarding 702 Nicol Street above, and we invite you to register for the virtual meeting regarding the proposed developments at 355 Nicol street on August 13: 

    https://letstalkhousingbc.ca/nanaimo-355-nicol-street