Tiny homes could become a big solution for P.E.I.’s affordable housing shortage, a group of Islanders heard this weekend.
More than 30 individuals attended a presentation by Mark Mahar and Sherri Spatuk of M4G Alternative Housing at Georgetown’s Genevieve Soloman Memorial Library on Saturday to learn about the benefits of having a tiny home.
Since finishing their own tiny home last fall, Spatuk said the couple have had many Islanders asking about the small dwelling.
More than 200 attended an open house this winter, while thousands have viewed pictures of the home online.
“There is definitely a pent-up interest in this province. But with that much interest, there also needs to be a push,” said Spatuk, who encouraged those interested in building a tiny home to contact their local MLAs and town councils. “(If) they’re serious about having this as an alternative housing movement here, then they need to speak to their local politicians… We need the majority of people to step up and say this is something we want to be an option here.”
Some remarked during the meeting that P.E.I.’s current affordable housing initiatives often involve subsidizing larger apartment buildings, which provide shelter but do not offer a path to home ownership.
Aside from having a smaller mortgage, many also pointed to the environmental benefits of tiny homes.
Spatuk noted that one of the biggest challenges of building a tiny home in P.E.I. is that they’re currently not permitted in many municipalities.
She said the majority of municipalities she’s looked at require a home to be a minimum of 500 to 1,000 square feet.
“So, tiny homes do not apply,” she said, noting that their own 382-square-foot dwelling is actually bigger than many other tiny homes.
During the presentation, the couple pointed to other areas of Canada that have looked at the tiny home trend as a solution to housing shortages.
Georgetown council is now looking at the possibility of creating a community of tiny homes within the municipality. Council has also approved $1,500 for an engineering consultant to look over the options for roadways and servicing to those lots.
While Spatuk and Mahar’s tiny home is now in Marshfield, the couple is currently thinking of moving it to Rollo Bay and renting it out.
Spatuk said it would give an opportunity for others who are thinking about building or buying their own tiny home to try living in one first.
“It would allow people to go in and try it, even for a March break with their kids, to see if they could do it,” said Spatuk, who also encourages potential builders to make sure they’ve done their planning first in order to ensure their dwelling is built up to code and can be transported and insured. “The planning was a big portion of our business and it was also a big expense, cutting through all this red tape…. But at the end of the day, we have a tiny home that, once the bylaws are amended, there’s no reason it can’t go anywhere on this Island.”