WebStamp April 3, 2017

Tiny House Communities -Hindered by Bylaws

There is this movement happening worldwide where people are simplifying their lives. They are moving out of the high cost of living and downsizing to a more sustainable tiny house living. There are many reasons to go tiny; minimizing your responsibilities and maximizing your lifestyle, saving money, eliminating your mortgage and debts, living eco-friendly, are but a few good reasons.

Tiny House Village

Many in Calgary are currently struggling to make ends meet, where the largest expense is living accommodations. Tiny homes would be a great way where families could help make ends meet. The only problem is where do you place one. One Calgary-area contractor’s fully self sustainable tiny home, on wheels, was told by Rocky View County that he couldn’t live in it on a property on Springbank Road. All because of a county bylaw stating that a permanent residence must be present on a property before a trailer or shed is erected in order to meet guidelines.

Nancy Shadlock was told she would have to move her 200 Sq. Ft. home out of a friend’s backyard in Bowness after a complaint. Since the home was on wheels the city considered it a trailer and a bylaw exists where living in them is not allowed within city boundaries. Eventually she was told if she applies for a development permit and connects it to city utilities such as sewage and water she would be allowed to stay.

Baptiste, who is attempting to build Alberta’s first tiny house community east of Calgary, said: “The (county) has their bylaws, which are pretty black and white. They’re trying to squeeze us into their definitions but tiny homes are so new that we don’t fit anywhere. An RV park is the closest suitable option, so we have to follow the guidelines of an RV park.” This meant that all their ideas of a self-sustaining community with composting toilets and off-grid power was out of the question. The dollar signs added up with building sewage, water, power, and roadways with parking pads. These additional costs defeat the purpose of developing affordable housing.

The city has no specific rules for tiny houses. Tiny house communities are springing up all over the US. Calgary city council should work together with developers on designing and building tiny home communities and change some of the rules allowing for ecofriendly sustainable communities. This could help ease the cost of accommodation for the many impoverished families in Calgary

Having lived in a 495-sq. ft. duplex and in the Netherlands, I have enjoyed living in smaller scaled residences. With drafting in High School and architecture at N.A.I.T. I have designed several tiny homes. One of my concepts is that of 3, 2 bedroom, 1050 Sq. Ft. houses, with backyard and single car garage all on a 50’ x 150’ lot.

Next issue I will go into detail on my vision on how to progress self-sustaining affordable tiny home communities. Lifestyles are beginning to change and society to needs to begin living more sustainable to ensure a prosperous future for generations to come.

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Marinus (René) Verschuren
Marinus (René) Verschuren
Founder of WebStamp
René has been involved in the publishing and printing industry since the 1970s. He has published and distributed a successful 24-page weekly news advertiser with a circulation of 4400 copies. Also for the last 20 years, he has been a printer, plotter, scanner and 3D printer technician and installer. Since High School, he also has worked as a janitor, cabinet maker, building construction, landscaper/designer, computer operator producing microfiche, graphic artist, and webmaster, among other professions, qualifying him as a Jack-of-All-Trades.
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