It has been a few exciting weeks for the Village of Big Valley as it starts to lay the tracks for what will be the first of its kind – tiny home subdivision – in the province, and maybe even in the country.
Big Valley Mayor Asaph Ken Johnson has been surprised by the interest the tiny home project has received.
“We were a little gobsmacked by it all,” Johnson said.
In addition to being contacted by several news outlets, Johnson noted that there has also been a lot of interest from other municipalities that may have an interest in embarking on a similar project.
“We have had calls fairly regularly from other municipalities saying ‘how are your plans going,” Johnson added.
In terms of planning, the town council is aiming to find a balance between imposing certain restrictions, while still allowing people to build tiny homes according to their own needs and taste.
“You can build on the property whatever you want as long as it fits with the MPC’s approval,” explained Johnson.
There will, however, be certain guidelines that the tiny homes must follow in order to meet approval.
“I applaud communities like Big Valley for exploring unique development projects such as the tiny home concept,” said Dick Richards, Mayor of Stettler. “As far as I’m aware, we have not had enquiries about such sites.”
Richards explained that there are a number of factors going into pricing a lot, such as land acquisition, servicing costs as well as frontage costs.
“When lot prices run between $60,000 and $80,000, the high pricing make such projects less desirable from a consumer point of view,” Richards said. “When communities have very inexpensive land price, the overall costs of these projects may be more palatable.”
However, Richards feels that generally the market will dictate if there is a demand for properties of any kind.
“A number of years ago the council of the day supported the thought that development should be left to the professionals,” Richards noted. “There are a number of developers in Stettler who do a great job of responding to the needs of the public.”
Houses must be built on a foundation, for example, which means that tiny homes on wheels will not be allowed.
“We’re a small village, but we have rules,” Johnson said. “Houses must also be no larger than 650 square feet, inclusive of ground floors above.”
However, as Johnson noted, “You can have a basement, which does not count towards your square footage.”
Converted shipping containers will be allowed as well, but the exteriors must be altered so that they fit in with the rest of the houses in the neighbourhood, according to Johnson.
“In an effort to encourage variety among the houses, there will also be a rule stating that homes built next to each other cannot look alike, with the development containing many of the same amenities as a standard subdivision, but scaled down to tiny home size.”
In the middle of the subdivision, there will be a park too for the tiny home community and the project is open to any buyers, both young and old, who want to build a tiny home.
“This is designed to accommodate both new families and seniors,” Johnson said.