Nanaimo - 702 Nicol Street – Supportive Housing

Illustration of supportive housing


Project Overview

BC Housing owns the vacant property at 702 Nicol Street. We intend to build new permanent housing and bridge to housing spaces on the property.

The new building will have 52 homes. These will provide long-term housing for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. There will also be 14 bridge to housing homes for women in need.

Island Crisis Care Society will operate this new building. There will be staff onsite 24/7.

BC Housing engaged to community to receive input into the design of the building, property, and community amenity space. View selected design choices.

The Development Permit was approved by the City of Nanaimo on February 22, 2021.

What is supportive housing?

Supportive housing provides secure homes for people who need supports. These supports allow residents to shift to a more stable and healthy life.

All residents will:

  • Currently live in Nanaimo
  • Apply to live in the building
  • Pay rent
  • Sign a program agreement (like a tenancy agreement)

What is bridge to housing?

Bridge to housing provides beds, showers, and meals for women in need. It also offers many of the same 24/7 support services as permanent supportive housing.

Neighbourhood Engagement

BC Housing and partners hosted neighbourhood dialogues on December 10 and 15, 2020 to discuss the project in more detail and collect feedback into the exterior, landscape, and community amenity space design.

A survey was live on this page to collect input into the proposed design options from December 4 - 18, 2020.

BC Housing and its partners hosted online virtual neighbourhood meeting on July 28, 2020 to share information about the plan for 702 Nicol Street, answer questions and collect community feedback with the public, a copy of the presentation is also available.

Your feedback and comments are important to us

We welcome questions and comments below in the Q&A tool or by email to communityrelations@bchousing.org.


Project Overview

BC Housing owns the vacant property at 702 Nicol Street. We intend to build new permanent housing and bridge to housing spaces on the property.

The new building will have 52 homes. These will provide long-term housing for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. There will also be 14 bridge to housing homes for women in need.

Island Crisis Care Society will operate this new building. There will be staff onsite 24/7.

BC Housing engaged to community to receive input into the design of the building, property, and community amenity space. View selected design choices.

The Development Permit was approved by the City of Nanaimo on February 22, 2021.

What is supportive housing?

Supportive housing provides secure homes for people who need supports. These supports allow residents to shift to a more stable and healthy life.

All residents will:

  • Currently live in Nanaimo
  • Apply to live in the building
  • Pay rent
  • Sign a program agreement (like a tenancy agreement)

What is bridge to housing?

Bridge to housing provides beds, showers, and meals for women in need. It also offers many of the same 24/7 support services as permanent supportive housing.

Neighbourhood Engagement

BC Housing and partners hosted neighbourhood dialogues on December 10 and 15, 2020 to discuss the project in more detail and collect feedback into the exterior, landscape, and community amenity space design.

A survey was live on this page to collect input into the proposed design options from December 4 - 18, 2020.

BC Housing and its partners hosted online virtual neighbourhood meeting on July 28, 2020 to share information about the plan for 702 Nicol Street, answer questions and collect community feedback with the public, a copy of the presentation is also available.

Your feedback and comments are important to us

We welcome questions and comments below in the Q&A tool or by email to communityrelations@bchousing.org.

CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.
  • My husband & I both watched your virtual meeting about 702 Nichol street, and i can personally say that BC Housing had no interest in hearing what we had to say, and for the questions that we asked and our neighbors asked, you completely ignored us. You have no care in the world what we have to say, we have worked hard to get our neighborhood looking good, and getting to know our neighbors. And ever since tent city and Wesley street, crime in our city has gone up considerably, especially in our area as most of them hang around the Value Lodge, there's been break in, drug deals, etc. and now you want to build a 52 unit building to house more criminals and drug dealers to reek havoc on our neighborhood. Why don't you buy the old Howard Johnson hotel, everything is still in there, beds, bedding, fridges , everything , even a pool for them. We do not want this 52 unit housing in our neighborhood, find something out of town , we all would like to live in peace !!!

    IslandMuM asked 4 months ago

    People who experience homelessness are as varied as any other neighbour. They may be seniors, persons with disabilities, people who have employment but no housing, people who are working through mental health concerns and/or substance use. All residents in supportive housing have made a choice to work towards living a healthy, stable life.  

    BC Housing and the City of Nanaimo worked collaboratively to identify sites and considered several available sites across the municipality. Supportive housing sites are considered with respect to: 

    • Availability to purchase at a reasonable price 
    • Proximity to community services (walking distance to commercial and recreational activities) 
    • Accessibility to transit 
    • Adequate lot size and shape 
    • Connections to utilities 
    • Compatible land use policies 

    A Community Advisory Committee will be created to discuss any emergent and ongoing issues towards building a safer and healthier community, with representation that may include BC Housing, Vancouver Island Health Authority, the City of Nanaimo, local RCMP, local service providers and community members at large. 

    BC Housing and the non-profit operator prioritize safety for the residents, the staff and the surrounding community. 

    We want to ensure that people are successful at maintaining housing stability. BC Housing and the non-profit operators will collaborate with local service providers in a thoughtful and thorough resident selection process that ensures staff can effectively manage the housing and provide the necessary support services for residents. 

    All residents sign a Program Agreement that sets out expectations to be a good neighbour and resident.  If an operator ends an agreement and evicts a resident, they would look into housing and shelter options, so that people will not become homeless again.

    The most important security feature, both for residents and the community, is staffing. The building would have staff onsite 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to ensure that residents are supported and that any concerns are addressed in the timely manner. 

    If you have any further questions please comment on this page or email us at communityrelations@bchousing.org

  • Can you tell me the name of the construction company and the designer building the supportive housing units at 702 Nicol St., Nanaimo please?

    Joanne Swain asked 6 months ago

    Thank you for your question. The building is being designed by the architecture firm S2 Architecture. The landscape architects on this project are WSP. NRB Solutions is the modular housing manufacturer for this building.

  • Will this end up like Wesley street with tents and grocery carts

    Pete asked 8 months ago

    The supportive housing will provide permanent homes for residents in need. For some residents, this will be their forever home. 

    Bridge to Housing beds for women in need will provide the emergency shelter service that the current Samaritan House provides. 

    Once people are housed, they are no longer homeless and living on the streets. 

    Supportive housing provides residents with apartment style units where they will be able to store their possessions. 

    Storage will also be available for people using the bridge to housing beds. 

    Both staff and residents will be committed to keeping the property maintained with a daily clean-up, just as any other resident in the neighborhood would keep their own property clean and tidy. 

    In addition, many of our housing sites have Clean Teams who do sweeps in the neighbourhood for any litter.  

    A Community Advisory Committee will be created to discuss any emergent and ongoing issues towards building a safer and healthier community, with representation that may include BC Housing, Vancouver Island Health Authority, the City of Nanaimo, local RCMP, local service providers and community members at large. 

  • Will they be able to walk down back alley of 600 block nicol with daycare

    Pete asked 8 months ago

    The alley behind the building will be widened. Access to the building will be at the front of the property from Nicol Street. Residents will be able to use the fenced outdoor space at the rear of the property as a smoking area.

    Many supportive housing sites across the province have been operating in their communities and near childcare centres for 10+ years with no issues and with support from the community. 

    In fact, there are over 210 provincially funded supportive housing sites across the province that are within 500 metres of a school. 

    We invite you to have a look through some research related to community benefits of supportive housing on this webpage, which includes information regarding supportive housing in proximity to schools.

  • Interested in applying for housing

    Alexandra asked 7 months ago

    Thank you for your inquiry. BC Housing has a range of programs to provide housing assistance for residents of BC. This includes various subsidized housing options as well as rent supplements in which part of an individual's rent is paid for by BC Housing. You can view this site to search housing listings in a specific area: https://www.bchousing.org/housing-assistance/rental-housing/housing-listings

    The Program Finder can be used to learn which programs you might be eligible for: https://programfinder.bchousing.org/programfinder/faces/start      

    For more assistance with the housing application, please contact Applicant Services at 1-800-257-7756 (toll-free).

  • I think that you are being unfair and naive to foist this facility on our neighbourhood. When scattered sites have been identified as the preferred model to help the homeless, you are choosing to create a community within a neighbourhood that has worked to improve itself over the years. This is not New York, this is Nanaimo. A smaller facility would mean that the population would be part of the neighbourhood, a more normalizing influence, rather than a population unto itself. Using the term "homeless" is supposed to make us sympathetic to the cause, but we all know that you really mean drug addicted and mentally ill people. Why would you put such a population of such size into any neighbourhood? If you don't think that this will affect and change our lives, you are not in touch with reality. If you would not put such a facility beside your own house do it to us! You are robbing people of their oceanview and potential property value and condemning us to never being able to escape this situation. The site is not on a bus route which means the tenants will have to wander around to find the bus stop, or goods to sell to make the rent, or will you be providing them with drugs too? We ordinary folk already have our hands full with negative influences such as a half-way house, a motel full of marginalized people and a bikers clubhouse. We have chosen to find a way to live with this. You are not giving us any choice in this matter and the whole process of pushing this through without proper consultation is very unfair. This was starting to become a desirable place to live....no more. Please do not sink the taxpayers millions of dollars to build something which will not be a place of pride for the community. Finally, when we all come home after a hard days work we want to be able to relax, not have to have our guard up because you have chosen to surround us with a difficult population. I realized some time ago when I was being panhandled that I was the one who owed $80,000 dollars to the bank, not the person asking me for money. I made that choice and I make a choice as to who I give money to. I seem to have no choice in this matter. You are simply taking the easy way out. You can cite statistics, you can spend our money and you can do less work just so you can say you've done it. What about democracy?

    Carole Goodall asked 8 months ago

    BC Housing engaged the City of Nanaimo and other community partners to locate and secure available properties to support Nanaimo in meeting their community goals for addressing homelessness. The Nicol Street development is part of a long-term investment in housing in Nanaimo that will help support people who are vulnerable in the community and provide a safe place for those who don’t have a home.   

    The new supportive housing and bridge to housing beds at 702 Nicol will be the replacement for the existing Samaritan House, providing a safe home for women in need. The supportive housing will be for men and women, and the Bridge to Housing beds will be for women only.   

    The Nanaimo Homeless Coalition’s 2020 Point in Time Count report found that the minimum number of individuals experiencing absolute homelessness in Nanaimo was 425, which is a 25% increase since 2018. Every day in Nanaimo there are people experiencing homelessness, and there are many misconceptions about who they are, where they come from and why they are homeless. It’s important to note that mental health or substance use are not the only factors. These community members may be seniors, people with disabilities, people who have employment but no housing, women fleeing violence, or people who are working through mental health concerns and/or substance use.   

    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. In addition, we often hear concerns over property values in relation to supportive housing developments. Research commissioned by BC Housing in 2019 of 13 B.C. supportive housing sites showed that property values immediately surrounding 10 sites either kept pace or surpassed surrounding municipal trends. Property values for the other three sites were not notably different compared to municipal trends. We invite you to take a look at the full technical report, which includes detailed methodology, as well as key findings related to residential sale prices and assessed commercial property values.     

    There are many people and partners working on addressing homelessness in Nanaimo. We have been engaging and listening to input from the neighbourhood and are still in the planning stages.

  • The first reason stated for location of sites was due to the price and ability to purchase. The whole city of Nanaimo is not even shown on your map. By citing ability to purchase coupled with compatible policies a cycle is being generated in the southend concentrating supportive housing to one area. What is your plan to prevent centralized development and what supports are you providing to the neighbourhood of low property values to deal with this influx of new residents?

    MTaylor asked 9 months ago

    Supportive housing locations are determined based on a number of factors. They include proximity to transit, access to amenities, and availability of sites. 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). We continue to look at future available sites throughout the city, but at the time of purchase and due to the urgent need for new permanent supportive housing, the supportive housing sites selected under the MOU were the best options available. 

    The property at 702 Nicol Street will offer approximately 50 new permanent, purpose-built homes with supports as well as Bridge to Housing beds for women in need. It is important to note that residents who will live here are already settled and living in the neighbourhood. This new supportive housing and Bridge to Housing will be the replacement for the existing Samaritan House located at 355 Nicol street, and will also offer new permanent homes for those living in temporary emergency housing. 

    If you haven’t already, we invite you to review the virtual information session video and information provided on this site or on the other Nanaimo project sites: https://letstalkhousingbc.ca/nanaimo

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

    Gord Fuller asked 11 months 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 11 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 11 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.