Embracing the Tiny House Movement!

I've been watching the Tiny House Movement grow for a while now, on programs like YouTube's "Living Big in a Tiny House,” as well as on Facebook.  The movement has taken off in Saskatchewan, too. Here are some stories about the province's Tiny House movers & shakers and what they're up to, plus others.

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Saskatoon developer Andrew Machnee has built the city’s first permanent tiny house and sees the tiny house movement as being key to the city’s infill plans. The project cost about $30,000 to build and sits on a parcel of land owned by nearby St. Vincent of Lerins Orthodox Church. Machnee is hoping to convince City Hall to change zoning laws to allow as many as five tiny houses on a single lot in the city’s older neighbourhoods. 

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A group calling themselves Tiny House Saskatoon is working on plans for villages of tiny houses in Saskatoon and surrounding area. Fuelled by the interest in living minimally and without a mortgage, one of the challenges they face is that most tiny houses are on wheels and in Saskatoon it means they must be with other mobile homes within the city limits. The group is developing parameters for an urban and a rural tiny house village, and hope to have their first village developed within five years.

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John Robinson, co-owner of Regina’s Robinson Residential Design, has developed a 160-square-foot home on wheels called the Dragonfly. Robinson maintains that the small structure is built for sustaining Saskatchewan's bitterly cold winters. All storage and living space is maximized and features plenty of natural light, a gas range, and a three-piece bathroom. Like Tiny House Saskatoon, Robinson is looking to develop an exclusive tiny house community, like a resort but for full-time living, on land overlooking the Qu'Appelle Valley.

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The Federation of Saskatchewan Indigenous Nations (FSIN) and Your Choice Homes Inc. have partnered to build tiny homes on the 74 First Nations around the province to help address the First Nations housing shortage.  A tiny house prototype was developed by Your Choice Homes, a First Nations housing company, with 13 high school students from six First Nations who participated in the project. The students graduated from the project in March.

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Two Idle No More organizers, Sylvia McAdam and Alex Wilson, have looked to tiny houses to solve the chronic housing shortage faced by Indigenous communities.  In 2015, they crowdfunded some $15,000 to build the first of three tiny houses. They partnered with Mini Homes of Manitoba on a 128 square foot house that features a kitchen and living area, a bathroom with a composting toilet, and radiant floor heating. Solar power and a wood stove provide added heating. The first house was delivered by truck to a family on the Big River First Nation for Christmas 2015.

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Grade 11 students at Caledonia Regional High School in Hillsborough, New Brunswick built the province’s first tiny home as an educational project, designing and fabricating the house from the ground up. It was a great opportunity for the students to work with Red Seal professionals to gain the skills they needed for the job.

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Hamilton city council's planning committee voted to investigate building homes no larger than 425 square feet to ease the city's affordable housing crisis. They are considering how many laneway properties there are and how they could be used for housing. Advocates say smaller units are more cost effective to build and maintain than high-rise buildings.

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Crass Community Social Services in Detroit is helping people who earn as little as $10,000 a year to own a tiny house.  Its seven tiny homes painted bright colours have sprouted up in vacant lots and the organization ultimately plans to increase the number of cabin-sized dwellings to 25. The tiny houses are shelter for some of the city's low-income seniors, homeless, and students who have aged out of foster care.

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Fiji Robinson