The Town of Okotoks is collaborating with Vagabond Tiny Homes to create one of the first Tiny Home Ecovillages in Canada.
“We are very fortunate that Vagabond approached us to be a partner in this project,” said Mayor Bill Robertson. “Affordable housing is one of Council’s strategic priorities and this project fits perfectly with our commitment to create innovative neighbourhoods with diversified housing.”
The owners of Vagabond Tiny Homes approached the Town with their vision to effectively address affordable housing by focusing on innovative buildings and community design that fall outside of conventional housing norms.
“We were really excited about how open Okotoks was to working with us to become a partner in our vision of an innovative, sustainable, and purposeful community development,” said Thomas Grenier, Vagabond Tiny Homes’ proprietor.
The proposed village also fulfills many of the priorities the community has identified in several of the Town’s long-range plans, including fostering a strong sense of community, integrating environmentally friendly and sustainable energy sources, and creating neighbourhoods that encourage intentional, holistic lifestyles.
Vagabond has applied for funding through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) Affordable Rental Innovation Fund, which requires Vagabond and the Town to meet a number of criteria to gain approval, such as demonstrating innovative solutions for affordable rental housing, selecting a location within walking distance of shopping, and achieving a decrease in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
While planning is still very much in the initial stages, selecting a site that meets all the criteria has been a challenging first step in bringing the vision into reality.
“After assessing all potential sites in Okotoks, the Kinsmen Park at Oak Ave is the only location to meet the Innovation Fund requirements for this potential project,” said Environment and Sustainability Coordinator Dawn Smith. “We have invited those who would be directly impacted to a meeting to answer their questions and discuss their concerns.”
“There is still a lengthy process to change the land use for the site, and the community’s participation will be an important consideration in this process,” said Robertson. “We respect our residents’ perspectives and welcome a conversation that is inclusive and diverse.”
Residents will also have opportunities to participate in a range of decisions regarding the village’s design and functionality. An initial information session will be held during Chilifest, August 25, where the public will have an opportunity to tour one of Vagabond’s tiny homes and provide initial thoughts about the eco village. Additional public participation opportunities will be offered in the fall.