The District of Clearwater (DOC) is looking at the possibility of establishing a micro village within city limits in hopes of providing more affordable housing in the district.
A recommendation was made that DOC administration provide a report to council regarding the feasibility of constructing such a village, which is to include zoning and building requirements and is due in January 2020.
“It’s a budding concept, certainly in North America and definitely in B.C., as a response to some of the housing issues that people face and so we’re looking to see what zoning might be required, what the concept might look like, and how this would fit into attracting new people to Clearwater,” said Coun. Shelley Sim, who made the recommendation.
“Would this carve out a different kind of niche market that would bring some budding entrepreneurs or home-based workers, or just general workers? How could this infill some of our population to continue a forward-looking vision for the community?”
As the term micro village suggests, the homes that occupy them are much smaller than a traditional house and are much cheaper to own, which makes them appealing to the millennial market and those looking at breaking into the housing market.
One such project has popped up in Terrace, B.C. where a micro village of about 17 small homes has been constructed.
Sim said she knows people who have moved to that area and voiced concerns about younger workers who struggle with the high rental costs, which in some cases prohibits them from taking job opportunities, and similar situations have happened in Clearwater.
“At the last council meeting council voted to ask staff to look into different areas that might be doing this across Canada and then look at some of the policy and zoning requirements,” said Sim.
“There’s a community in Terrace already doing this under the municipality and (we want to touch) base with them to see if their template is something that’s workable, but at the end of the day it has to be workable for Clearwater and the North Thompson Valley, so this is really an exploration to see if this is something our community would interested in.”
Sim added there are challenges in identifying what a tiny home is, whether it’s a truck, a home, or an R.V., and then making sure planning and zoning can be addressed accordingly.
Other amenities could be added to the village, like community gardens, stores, and community workspaces, so commercial zoning also has to be considered.
“I think (this idea) came from a need to look at housing differently and the fact this is cropping up — there are areas that are actually building tiny homes — we are looking at what our community can do,” said Sim.
“Could we build tiny homes? Then could we have our own village? Could that be a different industry that’ll spark something?”