• Tiny Home Vagabond

Tiny Home Eco Village

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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

View the new proposed location within D'Arcy.

Proposed Location


Friday, September 28, 2018

Listen to Dawn Smith's interview with Danielle Smith on 770 CHQR:

Learn more about the vision behind the Tiny Home Eco Village. These were presented at the Stakeholder Sessions in August 2018.

Presentation Boards


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

At the September 24 meeting, Okotoks Council approved land within D’Arcy Ranch as the preferred site for the proposed Tiny Homes Eco Village and directed administration to begin conceptual design and preliminary cost estimates.

Administration will present the village design and cost analysis in December to Council. At this time, Council will make a decision on whether to proceed with the current proposal.

Read the full release


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Click the link below to see the report back to the community on what we've heard since announcing the proposed Tiny Home Eco Village on August 13, 2018. 

What we heard report


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

We appreciate all the feedback we’ve been hearing from residents about the proposed Tiny Home Eco Village project. With our decision to share information about this proposal very early in the process there are still many questions that we can’t yet answer, but it’s great to see a lot of general support for the concept. We also recognize and understand the concern about the loss of green space at Kinsmen Park.

We have posted a summary of  all the comments we’ve heard from the community over the last couple of weeks. Please take a moment to read through it. 

Administration will also be researching alternative site location options to provide to Council. This will require analysing financial implications, how project timelines would be affected etc. Once the research is complete a report will be presented to Council at the September 24 meeting. 


Monday, August 27, 2018

Watch Dawn Smith discuss the proposed project on Global News:


MondayAugust 13, 2018

The Town of Okotoks has partnered with Vagabond Tiny Homes, and its non-profit arm Sagebrush Social,  to collaborate in creating one of the first Tiny Home Eco Villages in Canada.  Vagabond/Sagebrush shares a vision with the Town to create inclusive, socially connected and environmentally mindful communities.

Not only will the Eco Village have tiny homes, but the vision is to create shared, communal spaces, including green space, that is accessible to the Okotoks community as a whole.
 
The proposed 32 home village would consist of three types of tiny homes: affordable housing rental units, market-rate rental units, and short-term vacation rental units, which would be intermixed throughout the site. 
 
The project is still in the very early stages so please check this page often  as we will be updating it with new information as it becomes available. If you would like to receive email updates please send us your contact information.
 
 

NEWS RELEASE

Learn a little more about the proposed site (Kinsmen Park) and why it was identified:

After assessing a number of sites, the only one that fit all the requirements was Kinsmen Park at Oak Ave. To reduce development costs, the site had to be located on existing, serviced Town-owned land.

For this village concept to work, the area had to be 3 to 4 acres in size to accommodate the homes and central facilities. This is the ideal size to be able to create an economically viable village model. The site also needed to be outside of the 1:100 year flood plain.

To meet the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's (CMHC) Innovation Fund criteria there were a number of requirements that a proposed location had to meet:

  • demonstrating innovative solutions for affordable rental housing,
  • selecting a location that was centrally-located and within walking distance of shopping and amenities, and
  • achieving a decrease in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions

VIEW PROPOSED location

Scroll down to learn more about public participation opportunities and further details about the project, Vagabond Tiny Homes and more!

Take a virtual tour of a model from Vagabond Tiny Homes

(note: homes in the Eco Village will not be on wheels, and homes will each have a distinct character and exterior feel)

Public Participation: Provide your input

The Town and Vagabond Homes are committed to raising awareness about this project and hearing from the community. We will share information on an ongoing basis, gather input on various aspects of the project whenever possible, and ask for and respond to any concerns that neighbouring residents and other community organizations may have. 

We will reach out to local residents from the very start of the project to share information, as it becomes available, and identify concerns, with a particular focus on design elements, park replacement, benefits to the surrounding community etc., and we will provide information as it is available.

Opportunities for input

Additional public participation opportunities will be offered in the fall. Watch for opportunities to participate on this page in the Public Engagement section of our website:

PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT

Land Use Bylaw amendment for site

There is a lengthy process to change the land designation and land use for the Eco Village site, and the community’s participation will play an important part in this process. Opportunities for public input will be advertised here and in the Okotoks Western Wheel in advance of any changes. (see more about the amendment in the FAQ section under Changes to site’s current usage .)

Project and Public Participation Timelines
This is a tentative timeline showing where, and approximately when, public participation will occur in the project process, and it will help residents understand critical steps and phases in this project.
 
Please note, these timelines are tentative and could change based on funding decisions, when final financial decisions are made, and construction schedule.
 

PROJECT TIMELINE

About the Project
Project Details

A central building is the critical element of the village concept, as its purpose would be to provide spaces for village members to come together. This facility would provide the village residents with shared spaces to supplement their tiny home living and would include a commercial kitchen, dinning/gathering space for parties and dinners, workspaces, storage lockers, etc.

The village’s design would also incorporate communal green spaces that would serve as outdoor living spaces and event gathering spaces in the summer months. Local food production would be a key component of the village with proposed outdoor garden plots and a year-round greenhouse.

WHAT IS AN ECO VILLAGE? AN OVERVIEW OF THE IDEA

WHAT COULD THE VILLAGE LOOK LIKE?

What would the houses look like?      

* Please note that the homes in the eco village would have a deck and privacy landscaping and would be permanent structures on pads. 

After assessing all potential sites in Okotoks, the Kinsmen Park at Oak Ave was the only location that met all criteria requirements (see Site selection FAQ's below).

The proposed village and its amenities would be intended to serve both the residents of the eco village and the Okotoks community as a whole. Elements of the village such as rental space (garden plots and meeting/event rooms), public events (markets, small concerts, classes etc.), a children’s play space, and a centralized building provide opportunities for greater community inclusion.

In this vision, community inclusion extends beyond physical space and design to embrace diversity from a socio-economic, cultural and universal accessibility perspective In regards to accessibility, 15% of the long-term rental units will be wheelchair-accessible, and Sagebrush Social will be partnering with experts in order to ensure that the homes are as functional as possible. Furthermore, the entire community - including the village centre - will be wheelchair-accessible, allowing complete access for everyone.

Additionally, another 15% of the units will be for Indigenous renters. Okotoks sits within the traditional territory of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) people and it is also home to the nations of Treaty 7 which include the Tsuut’ina and the Ĩyãħé Nakoda. Sagebrush Social and the Town are committed to honouring the oral and written agreements of Treaty 7 and engaging in a way that nurtures and maintains respectful and reciprocal relationships between First Nations and non-Indigenous communities. To accomplish this, Sagebrush Social will be consulting with First Nations traditional knowledge keepers for guidance on how to create a community which welcomes both Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents alike.

Note: this is a visual example of the concept only. 
This is not the actual design.
Eco Village

Integrating leading edge environmental technology and practices into the village would be an essential element in its design. The village partners will look for opportunities to incorporate sustainable lifestyle choices that reduce the village’s carbon footprint while considering financial impacts.

The Project Partner: Vagabond Tiny Homes/Sagebrush Social Praxis

Proprietors: Thomas Grenier (owner); Devonn Drossel (head of community engagement and Indigenous engagement)

Vagabond Tiny Homes’ philosophy is that someone can live in a small home and do so successfully and indefinitely. The way to achieve this is by designing and building a new kind of tiny home, with incredible efficiency as well as comfort. The owners of Vagabond Tiny Homes believe in efficient living that considers decreased energy consumption, small space design, and presents the opportunity to prioritize what in life is truly valuable. They offer people a choice to live well while living modestly and purposefully within a sustainable footprint. 

Vagabond’s vision supports people who believe they can live fulfilling lives in a smaller home and by accumulating fewer amenities. Vagabond believes that if people had the opportunity to live in a community that didn’t drain all of their finances and offered more than just a space to live but also a place that creates a sense of social connection and community, their lives may be fuller and happier.

Their services include project management and consulting for those building their own tiny homes, as well as offering complete construction services. They have been located in Aldersyde but are currently looking for larger shop space closer to Okotoks in preparation for the development of the Tiny Home Eco Village.

Sagebrush Social is the non-profit arm of Vagabond Tiny Homes that would manage the long-term operation of the Tiny Home Eco Village in Okotoks. Vagabond Tiny Homes has applied for funding under CMHC’s Affordable Housing Innovation Fund. If successful, this money would assist in the construction of the homes and the development of the village in partnership with the Town of Okotoks. Once construction of the village is complete, Vagabond’s non-profit arm would assume control and management of the village.

VISIT WEBSITE

The Proposed Fund: CMHC Affordable Housing Innovation Fund

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) Affordable Housing Innovation 

The goal of the Innovation Fund is to encourage new funding models and innovative building techniques in the affordable housing sector. The fund supports unique ideas that would revolutionize the affordable housing sector moving forward. CMHC anticipates that the $200M Fund would help create up to 4,000 new affordable units over five years and reduce reliance on long-term government subsidies. The Fund’s scope of eligible projects includes affordable homeownership, retrofit models and affordable rental projects.

Funding is available to eligible individuals, corporations and organizations that want to build new affordable housing in Canada. It is also available for those who want to repair and renew existing housing in response to a demonstrated community need. Eligible applicants include municipalities, private sector developers and builders, and non-profit housing providers (as well as community housing organizations).

The Innovation Fund would prioritize projects that:

  • exceed mandatory requirements
  • bring more partners and additional investment to the table
  • address the needs of vulnerable populations

VISIT THE CMHC WEBSITE

CMHC Okotoks village story

Frequently Asked Questions

Please note: this project is still in the very early stages of approval and funding so the information provided will change as more details become available.

Overview of project

1. What is the difference between this proposed tiny home development and others in Canada?

While many municipalities are starting to integrate tiny homes into their communities, most are incorporating tiny homes into traditional linear street designs with individual yards. Because tiny homes don’t fit into standard zoning categories for land use, they are often built outside the city centre in more rural areas. The Town of Okotoks and Vagabond Tiny Homes (Sagebrush Social Praxis Society) are taking a more holistic direction, incorporating social wellness, connectedness, shared spaces and environmental sustainability into the development. This holistic village concept will include community gardens, a greenhouse and village centre with kitchen facilities, offices and studio space and will be located in the heart of the community.

2. Why is the Town participating in this project?

This project is an amazing opportunity to demonstrate how tiny home communities can be successfully integrated into an urban environment and is one solution in the Town’s efforts towards diversifying the community’s housing options. This project also reflects a number of the priorities in Council’s 2018-2021 Strategic Plan, as well as priorities that the Okotoks community identified in the following plans: Social Wellness Framework, Affordable Housing priorities, Community Sustainability Plan, Environmental Master Plan, Economic Development Plan, Active Transportation Plan, and the Downtown Urban Design Master Plan. These priorities include:

  • affordable housing
  • diversity of housing options
  • natural environment
  • sense of community
  • health and well being
  • vibrant downtown core
  • active transportation
  • business attraction in manufacturing
  • environmental innovation/ technology
  • tourism industry
3. Will the public have a chance to provide feedback on the development? When?

Yes, the Town is committed to engaging the public throughout the process. In previous engagement activities with the community, (i.e. Environmental Master Plan in early 2018) the community identified tiny homes and a variety of housing options and styles as a need. In the fall of 2018, the Town will invite the community to provide feedback on a number of this project’s elements.

Innovative technology for water reuse and energy requirements will be key drivers for many aspects of the site design, and the interior options for the homes have already been established to maximize space and efficiency. These parameters could determine the options available for public participation.

 

4. There are a growing number of tiny home builders in Alberta. Why was Vagabond Tiny Homes chosen to be the homebuilder and partner in this project?

Vagabond had applied to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) for funding to support the project through their Affordable Housing Innovation Fund. Vagabond approached the Town with this unique idea for the village, which fit with the Town’s values and vision. The Town supports and encourages this type of grassroots entrepreneurship that will help Okotoks achieve many of the social, environmental and economic goals citizens have indicated they want.

Site Details

5. Where is the proposed site?

After assessing a number of sites, the only one that fit all the requirements was Kinsmen Park at Oak Ave.

6. Why was this site selected?

For this village concept to work, the area had to be 3 – 4 acres in size to accommodate the homes and central facilities. This is the ideal size to be able to create an economically viable village model. The land needed to be centrally located within walking distance to amenities or local transit options and outside of the 1:100 year flood plain. To reduce development costs, the site had to be located on existing, serviced Town-owned land.

7. How large is the proposed village?

The site is estimated to be approximately four acres in size which would accommodate the estimated 32 tiny homes, a larger shared centralized building (approx. 10,000 ft²) and a greenhouse. The site design would determine the final number homes. The Okotoks community will be invited to consult on elements of the village design. 

It is not envisioned that the proposed village development will extend north beyond the existing pathway. If it is removed or damaged, the pathway will be replaced and enhanced.

8. Would the site be serviced?

The site would most likely use traditionally utility services, however there is the potential to use pioneering technologies for water, waste water and energy.

9. What are the proposed sizes of the tiny homes and how many people could live in them?

Vagabond has proposed three tiny home models:

  • a one bedroom and loft model around 380 ft² with a maximum occupancy of two people
  • a two bedroom and loft model around 550 ft² with a maximum occupancy of four people
  • a one bedroom wheelchair integrated model around 550 ft² with a maximum occupancy of two people
10. Would the tiny homes be permanent?

Yes, the tiny homes would be placed on concrete slabs and be permanent in nature. Each home would be finished with skirting and decking. 

Changes to site’s current usage
11. The land that is proposed for this development would eliminate playing fields. What would the Town do to provide alternative locations for user groups?

A new sport field has been developed in Air Ranch and another is currently being built at the Community Campus site on 32 Street, West of Holy Trinity High School. The Town values our sports fields and will work closely with the user groups to ensure that capacity is maintained and needs are met.

12. There is currently a playground structure at the site. What would happen to this?

Either the existing playground would remain or a new one would be integrated into the site. The regional pathway and toboggan hills would remain. The Town is looking at enhancing pathway connections to other nearby park spaces and downtown.

13. The community garden is located on the site. What would happen to it?

The intent is to leave the community garden in its current form and location, if possible. There is the opportunity to enhance the integration of the current garden plots into the site and part of the village design may include additional community garden space. The Town recognizes and values the importance of community gardens and has identified two new community garden locations in the 2019 budget. The public will be involved in the decision on these two locations.

14. Would the site’s land use and zoning need to be changed?

The lands, which are currently designated Municipal Reserve (MR) for the purposes of a public park, would be changed to a Community Services Reserve (CSR) designation under the Municipal Government Act to allow the Town to provide Affordable Housing.  The Land Use Designation (i.e. “zoning”) under the Land Use Bylaw will be changed from the current zoning of Public Service (PS) District to one that will allow the tiny eco home village to be developed.  Opportunities for public input will be advertised here and in the Okotoks Western Wheel in advance of any changes.

Financial implications
15. Who would own the tiny home development?

Vagabond Tiny Homes would construct the homes and its non-profit arm, Sagebrush Social, would manage all aspects of the village after it is completed. The Town would retain ownership of the land and service it for the project, which would then be leased to Sagebrush Social.  The Town would also be a major stakeholder in the ownership of the centralized village centre, but the final share-model would be decided based on funding.  

16. Who would pay for this development?

The Town would share some of the capital costs for developing the site, such as the infrastructure, landscaping and the environmental upgrades. With the support of external funding, Vagabond Tiny Homes would pay for the construction of the homes themselves. The Town is currently working with potential partners and additional funding opportunities for the village centre and greenhouse.

17. What is the CMHC Innovation Fund?

The goal of CMHC’s Affordable Housing Innovation Fund is to encourage new funding models and innovative building techniques in the affordable housing sector through grants, loans, equity investments, etc. It focuses on:

  • supporting the development of innovative approaches to affordable housing
  • creating inclusive and accessible communities
  • contributing to the fight against homelessness
18. Who would pay for the development costs if the proposed CMHC funding is not approved?

The project is dependent on receiving this funding. This is why it is so important to ensure the village meets all the criteria outlined in Vagabond Tiny Home’s application to the CMHC fund.

19. Who would be responsible for the long-term maintenance of the village?

Sagebrush Social, the non-profit arm of Vagabond, would be actively managing the village for as long as the village exists. The rental incomes collected each month would be directly invested into the management of the village to maintain and enhance the community over time.

While many affordable housing initiatives ensure there is a good standard of living and aesthetic at the start, they do not reinvest into the initiative over time. Sagebrush Social believes in the value of this project in both its initial building as well as its long-term financial sustainability.

The central building would have the capability of generating its own income by offering programs to the larger Okotoks community (e.g. yoga, paint nights, small community gatherings and farmers markets). This additional income would be reinvested into the operation of the village. Sagebrush’s intent is to have a “rainy-day fund” for larger expenses as well as a day-to-day fund, which would seek to maintain and potentially improve the community over time.

The long-term renters would have the opportunity to voice their opinions and suggest uses for the capital and all decisions would be based on a collective agreement. In this way, Sagebrush anticipates the community would evolve over time, developing unique programing and aesthetic additions. What is gained from this approach is not simply having a village that meets the bare minimum but invites tenants to participate, and be invested in the entire project. Under Sagebrush’s leadership, village residents would be empowered to participate actively in improving their own living experience, which would transform this project from being a temporary living option to a sustained, long-term lifestyle choice for its renters. 

Environmental elements/concerns
20. What environmental elements would be included in the tiny home village?

Energy: advanced building efficiency measures and/or renewable energy technologies would be integrated to ensure energy costs remain affordable and reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the long-term.

Water conservation: the per-capita consumption of potable water would be drastically reduced through advanced and appropriate water reuse measures.

Waste: advanced waste management alternatives would be incorporated into the village as well as mitigating the impact of construction waste.

21. Would the village impact the Town’s water supply?

Reduction of potable water use is a key environmental element of the village. Since the site has been developed and used as a sports field for many years, it has already been integrated into the Town’s water use allocation. While the site currently uses potable water for playing field irrigation, the village is expected to require more water than its current seasonal usage, therefore advanced water reuse measures would be integrated into the design.

Renter Eligibility
22. How many of the tiny homes would be affordable?

Approximately 56% would be classified as affordable housing rentals, while 25% would be market rate rentals and six units would be short-term vacation rentals.

23. Why are the proposed houses only rentals?

Vagabond Tiny Home’s application to CMHC’s Affordable Housing Innovation Fund specifies that Sagebrush, must retain ownership and be responsible for maintenance. All revenues from the village would be reinvested into the village.

24. Would any of the tiny homes be available to purchase?

No, based on the funding model all of the homes must be rentals.

25. Who would be eligible for an affordable tiny home?

Sagebrush Social is establishing an email list of interested individuals. You can sign up at hello@sagebrushsocial.org. Applicants will be required to complete an application process for both market value and affordable housing tiny homes.

26. What would the rental costs be for the affordable houses?

The Town’s Affordable Housing Task Force will be completing research and providing recommendations on a definition of affordable housing for Okotoks. This will inform the eligibility requirements for renting a tiny home. Sagebrush would also establish an application process for those interested in either the affordable or market value homes.

27. What would the rental costs be for market value homes?

Rental rates for the market value homes would be established closer to the completion of the project. It would somewhat depend on how extensive are the services that would be included (i.e. admission to programs in the central building, food from the greenhouse etc.).

Sagebrush has projected the market-rate units as 20% higher than the affordable.

28. How can I sign up if I’m interested in renting one of the tiny homes?

Sagebrush Social is establishing an email list of interested individuals. You can sign up at hello@sagebrushsocial.org.

Because the project is still in the early stages, these details still need to be finalized, such as the application process.

Sagebrush anticipates that the application would encourage potential renters to consider what appeals to them in this village and convey why they think they would be a good fit. Although the application wouldn’t be overly intensive, Sagebrush wants to ensure potential residents are serious about embracing the lifestyle offered by the eco village.

As a component of Vagabond/Sagebrush Innovation Fund Application, Vagabond/Sagebrush has committed 15% of the tiny homes to Indigenous residents. 

 

29. Who would decide who is accepted?

Sagebrush Social would make the final selection. Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) and local social services agencies would likely assist in developing the criteria and process for the affordable housing units. 

30. Where would I park my vehicle?

The village would be designed without internal roads, so a common parking area would be located within the site. There would be accessible pathways throughout the site for pedestrian use.

 

31. Would pets be allowed?

Sagebrush envisions opportunities for pets to be included in the community. The site design will influence this possibility and there will need to be discussion around rules and regulations for pets. 

32. When would people be able to move into a tiny home?

If everything is approved and the project can move forward, construction of the tiny homes would be scheduled for 2019. The village centre and other buildings would likely open in 2020.

33. Why would some of the tiny homes be short-term/vacation rentals?

This would provide space for family and friends of village members to stay when they come to visit. Residents of the Tiny Home Eco Village would have first access to these rental units. It would also provide an opportunity for individuals to experience tiny home living for a short time and help to promote Okotoks’ tourism.

Including vacation rental units would also create a funding loop: vacation rentals generate larger income that is reinvested into the community and the community invests in itself so that the vacation rentals (and public spaces) are always maintained at a high standard.

34. How could someone book the vacation rental homes?

It is too early to have a process established to book the vacation rentals but Sagebrush would manage this. Priority would be given to those living in the Tiny Home Eco Village.