Category Archives: Canada

11/16 Off-grid tiny house facing $1500 fine

Gregg  Taylor in front of his tiny house.

A Rocky View County (Alberta, Canada) enforcement order has demanded the removal of Gregg Taylor’s tiny house from a property on Springbank Road.

A Calgary-area contractor’s attempt to reduce his cost of living as demand for his business decreased has encountered a roadblock.

During the summer, Gregg Taylor, the owner of a small contracting company, found himself with ample free time as there were fewer construction jobs available.

“I’ve been a contractor for 18 years and it’s been my slowest year ever,” explained Taylor. “For the first time ever, back in June, I found myself without a job to go to.”

Gregg Taylor tours CTV Calgary’s Rahim Ladhani through the tiny house in Rocky View County
During a motorcycle trip to California and the return voyage along the Pacific coast, Taylor came to a realization. He decided to pursue his lifelong dream of owning a home, free from a mortgage or dependence on utilities, and began constructing a self-sustaining house. “I’d always wanted to build a tiny home but it was just timing.”

The contractor designed the building in his head and enlisted help from a family member to weld the frame.

Taylor posted photos of the construction progress on social media and the response was overwhelming. Motivated by the support and interest, Taylor says he became committed to finishing the project.
When the tiny home was constructed to a livable level, Taylor rented five acres of land on Springbank Road and notified his existing landlord that he would be moving out.

The tiny house, which is on wheels, was set in place in early September and he moved into his home on October 1.

“I would fall asleep each night with a smile on my face knowing that I had built with my bare hands,” recalled Taylor. “I didn’t owe any money on it and I could turn on the lights and use power that I stored from the sun and the wind.”

The tiny house is equipped with solar panels and a wind turbine.

“For the first time in my life, I wasn’t dependent on anyone or anything or any bank,” beemed Taylor. “I have a zero carbon footprint out here.”

In the eyes of Rocky View County officials, Taylor’s dream contrasted their land-use regulations and he received a verbal enforcement notice demanding the tiny home’s removal mere days after he moved in. The house was to be removed by the end of November and Taylor says he was informed that failing to comply with the order would result in a $1,500 fine.

The tradesman says he has researched the county’s bylaws and his tiny house presents no obvious violations. According to Taylor, a county planner indicated a permanent residence must be present on a property before a trailer of shed is erected in order to meet guidelines.

“They have these big properties out here. They want you to build a house on them,” said Taylor.“You can put an RV, you can put a trailer, you can put a shed but you can’t do any of those things until after you build a residence.”

Taylor says he was told his home does not meet the necessary requirements as it is considered to be too small and is without a foundation. The tiny house is on a chassis and can be pulled by a truck.

“I’m torn between packing up and leaving or do I owe it to myself, and what I’ve started to build here, to stick it out and see what happens.” Taylor has received land offers for relocation but says the Springbank location is ideal for commuting between jobs in Calgary, Airdrie and Okotoks.

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Follow up story with allegations of wrongdoing:

10/23 Tiny homes’ popularity surging while Winnepeg municipal bylaws lag

Anita Munn inspects the handywork in one of the tiny bathrooms built by her and her partner, Darrell Manuliak.

Anita Munn inspects the handywork in one of the tiny bathrooms built by her and her partner, Darrell Manuliak.

Tiny Homes are taking off in popularity with people across the country joining the miniature movement but homebuilders in Manitoba say municipal bylaws haven’t caught up with the craze.

Darrell Manuliak, who owns Mini Homes of Manitoba with his wife Anita Munn, said they have sold five of the tiny dwellings in their first year of business in the province. They already have a wait list for 2017.

“When the average price of homes is over $200,000, affordable housing isn’t available, so we’re providing that service to people,” Manuliak said.

The largest home they’ve build is only 320-square-feet but the little buildings can be connected to water and electrical outlets the same as a camper. Unlike seasonal vehicles, the tiny homes are made to withstand Canadian winters.

The problem is, the diminutive dwellings are built on wheels and Winnipeg, as well as other cities across Canada, considers them motorhomes and prohibit people from living in them full time.

“I think we’re behind the times,” Munn said.

“I think when we see other provinces — Ottawa does the lane houses, Calgary is looking into putting a mini home community — I mean these are all things that people are realizing that it’s not a fad anymore.”

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10/11 Ottawa planning committee approves new coach house rules

small house in Ottawa

The City of Ottawa has come up with new zoning rules that, if passed by council, would allow homeowners to build coach houses in their yards.

Ottawa’s planning committee has approved zoning changes that would allow coach houses in backyards, despite hearing from community associations worried the city-wide approach doesn’t take into account differences between neighbourhoods.

The Ontario government requires cities to allow for extra dwellings in their official plans as a way to boost the stock of affordable housing.

But until now Ottawa’s zoning rules have only allowed apartments within existing homes, not separate residential units on the same property.

City staff said they’ve conducted extensive consultations over the last year, but community associations in some neighbourhoods such as Champlain Park urged planners to return to the drawing board.

They fear allowing the small homes could lead to mature trees being removed or killed, especially if the units are built on the edges of lots or have basements.

How many tiny houses could Ottawa see?

Despite those concerns, staff said they don’t foresee many of the houses popping up in Ottawa yards.

“I don’t see this as changing the fabric of Ottawa,” said John Smit, who manages policy development and urban design for the city.

Smit said he’d be surprised if the city receives more than a few dozen applications for permits each year because it only hands out about 100 permits for basement apartments, which are far cheaper and easier to build.

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