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Victoria’s GnG Builders give new meaning to making your house a home…for workers

Shannon Moneo
Victoria’s GnG Builders give new meaning to making your house a home…for workers
COURTESY PAUL HERON, PROJECT MANAGER AT GNG BUILDERS — Located in booming Langford, B.C. the six-storey wood frame Gordon Place will feature 62 one-bedroom units and 44 two-bedroom apartments along with underground parking.

A Greater Victoria construction group is building a 106-unit apartment to house its employees, adding to the already 20 homes it owns and rents to its workforce.

“We’re doing our own development,” says Paul Heron, project manager for GnG Builders. “It’s going to be a win-win.”

Located in booming Langford, the six-storey wood frame Gordon Place will feature 62 one-bedroom units and 44 two-bedroom apartments along with underground parking.

“It’s the right building in the right location,” says Heron, of the centrally-located structure, close to shopping, schools and transit.

GnG is one arm of Vancouver Island company employing about 150 people in several divisions, including steel stud construction, drywall, specialty ceilings, insulation and painting.

With a completion date forecast for some time in 2026, Heron couldn’t say what the rent would be at Gordon Place. But staff will get a discount.

“We’ll be offering housing to our loyal employees first,” Heron says. “But it’s too early to tell how many employees will take up the offer.”

Some GnG employees have already picked out units in the apartment, currently at the excavation stage.

 

COURTESY PAUL HERON, PROJECT MANAGER AT GNG BUILDERS

 

GnG has owned the chunk of property on Orono Avenue for several years and this will be its first foray into building an apartment with the intention of providing housing for employees.

“It’s always been a goal to put a development on it (the property), to be rental-market driven,” Heron says.

But this isn’t GnG’s first go-round with employee housing. In business since 1986, GnG now owns 20 homes, inhabited by employees.

“We have offered discounted rent to employees,” says Heron. “It’s a great way to retain personnel.”

In Greater Victoria, monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment costs anywhere from $2.300 to $3,600 or more, while a three-bedroom home runs from $2,800 to over $4,000.

Heron points out having your employees as tenants works well, because the tradespeople do a fine job of maintaining the home.

While acknowledging the GnG Group is a non-union company, a labour organizer at the Victoria office of the says it’s a good thing when a company invests in its employees.

But for a sustainable, long-term solution, the high cost of a roof over one’s head needs to be addressed.

“Our union is working to make all housing affordable,” says Mike Motiuk.

He notes the housing market is currently very complicated and the building trades are best positioned to help unravel the challenge, but it should be a unified front.

Building trades have ground-level knowledge about the best way to supply housing and their expertise should be used.

“How can we partner with the government to get an answer?” Motiuk asks.

The CEO of the says housing continues to be one of the major hurdles when it comes to attracting and keeping workers on South Vancouver Island.

“Any initiative that our sector can do to support our workers will only benefit our ability to complete construction projects,” says Rory Kulmala. “Investments such as this certainly demonstrates a commitment by Gordon ‘N’ Gordon to its current and future workforce.”

Despite a push from all levels of government, to incentivize housing, the rental market in Greater Victoria remains very tight, Heron says. The repercussions translate into dragged-out completion dates among other delays.

“There’s definitely a shortage of workers,” Heron notes.

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