The Mountaineer - Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada
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Town council considers tiny homes in Rocky Mountain House
By Tyler Klinkhammer
Staff Reporter

As town council proceeds through the process of updating the land use bylaw, it is looking into alternative housing means.
One of the alternative measures it’s exploring is the possibility of making allotments for tiny homes.
Under the current bylaw, which has been in place since 2011, homes are required to take up a minimum amount of space on a lot. The inclusion of tiny homes in the bylaw would designate specific plots of land where tiny homes are allowed.
Councillor Merrin Fraser, who first brought the motion before council, said that new housing arrangements are becoming more necessary as things change.
“Things have changed due to mortgage laws; things have changed with how people are living and the kinds of homes that they’re building and the kinds of things that are important to people. People are looking for homes that aren’t as expensive to heat and aren’t as expensive to keep up.”
She also noted that changes in the job market mean that people have to be more flexible and may need to move for work. Relocating might be an issue if you’re trying to sell a house with a large price tag.
In response to the 2008 economic crisis “new rules were put down for mortgages, which said instead of the five per cent down you need twenty per cent down. Well, on a $400,000 home 20 per cent is $80,000,” Fraser said. Tiny homes can cost as little as $50,000.
With cost of living going up and wages seeing only marginal increases in comparison, saving $80,000 for a down payment is not a realistic goal for many people looking to buy a house. Tiny houses could be a very affordable alternative for first-time home buyers.
In November 2018 Statistics Canada released its latest labour force survey which found that hourly wage growth slowed in October to 2.19 per cent for its weakest reading since September 2017.
“I think we’ve got two forces in demographics right now. Millennials looking to move out from their parents houses … and we’ve also got a population that is aging and looking to retire,” said Fraser.
For an aging person, a 2,000-square-foot house can be very difficult to maintain, said Fraser, citing her own parent’s experience.
Fraser believes with these two demographic forces at play that tiny homes will become a popular solution for many people. “We’ve got people who are looking to downsize and we’ve got people who are looking to get out of the rental game and into the purchase game,” she said. Tiny homes are a viable solution for those who are trying to build some equity for themselves, and may be “an extra option for what I see as a hole in the market,” she added.