Shipping containers become housing: Move-in day at Lucy’s Place

The modular addition started as six shipping containers

News release from Redwood Park Communities and The Busby Centre

It’s Move-In Day for the new apartments at Lucy’s Place on Essa Rd., Barrie’s supportive housing community for people who have been experiencing chronic (long-term) homelessness. 

“It’s been truly exciting waiting to move in. I was worried that it wasn’t real,” said one of Lucy’s Place’s newest residents, who goes by T. “I’m happy that with the help of so many people, I’m ready for this fresh start. Let’s do this!”

Lucy’s Place is a joint effort between Redwood Park Communities and The Busby Centre. Redwood manages the property and provides side-by-side support, while Busby staff facilitate the supportive housing programming with on-site 24/7 support and case management. In addition to deeply subsidized rent, residents of Lucy’s Place receive support from both organizations to meet goals they set regarding housing stability, their health and wellbeing, family reunification, and/or training and employment opportunities, and more. 

“We are excited to welcome our six new residents to Lucy’s Place, some of whom we have had the pleasure of knowing through our shelter and outreach services for many years. We feel privileged to be part of this supportive housing journey as it is essential in our community in the battle to end chronic homelessness,” stated Sara Peddle, executive director of The Busby Centre. 

The County of Simcoe owns the Lucy’s Place property and works with Redwood Park Communities and the Busby Centre to operate and manage the facility and programming. The County was pleased to assist in the coordination and administration of provincial funding to support the development of these six new units. The expansion will augment the existing long-term commitments with Redwood Park Communities and the Busby Centre, ensuring affordable housing and support services are available to those calling Lucy’s Place home.

The modular addition started as six shipping containers, but they are not recognizable as such anymore. Built by Northern Shield Development in their factory and then finished on-site with help from Community Builders, each apartment includes a kitchen and bathroom as well as living and sleeping areas. Laundry facilities are shared in the main building at Lucy’s Place, where all residents also have access to a common kitchen and living room.

The shipping containers were craned into place on June 13th, and it was estimated that it would take three months to get them ready for residents. Then a North America-wide backorder on a very specific part needed to connect the hydro put a kink in those plans. However, the part was secured a few weeks ago, and since then, it has been all hands on deck to be ready for a December 1st Move-In Day. 

“Despite some setbacks, we are so glad to have people moving in today,” said Tim Kent, CEO of Redwood Park Communities. “We know a lot more housing is needed, but for today we are celebrating six people having a safe, affordable, hopeful place to call home instead of facing another winter outside.”

Offers of housing at Lucy’s Place are made through the Simcoe County By Name List, a key component of the Coordinated Access System. This is a centralized list that participating agencies in our housing and homeless system register their clients into with their consent. People on this list are prioritized and then matched to housing for an offer that is a good fit as they become available. Residents pay the housing portion of their Ontario Works or ODSP benefits or equivalent, and the rest of the costs are subsidized by the County. 

This addition is phase two of the conversion of the old Barr’s Motel into Lucy’s Place. These six new units complement the existing 12 apartments in the main building and six bedrooms of shared accommodation in the house next door. Lucy’s Place welcomed its first residents in 2019.

Redwood Park Communities is a Barrie-based charity founded in 2009 with the mission of building safe, affordable, hopeful housing where people thrive in community. Learn more at

The Busby Centre – Driven by a philosophy of empowerment, The Busby Centre is a community not-for-profit organization working from a non-judgmental approach to advocate for and improve conditions for individuals and families within the County of Simcoe who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.