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Okotoks tiny home village faces opposition

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WATCH: A tiny home village in Okotoks, Alta. is facing some opposition. Nearby residents are concerned about lower property values and loss of green space. Michael King reports – Aug 25, 2018

If approved, Kinsman Park in Okotoks would be the site for the first tiny home village in Canada.

The 32 new tiny homes provide all the amenities of a regular house but with a footprint of less than 600 square feet.

The proposed development would provide affordable housing, long-term and vacation rentals as well as a community building for residents.

Thomas Grenier owns Vagabond Tiny Homes and said the small house movement provides a different perspective on home ownership.

“What that really gives you is the opportunity to live environmentally sustainable,” said Grenier.

“You also get to participate in life in a way that doesn’t require you to constantly buy things to sustain your material house.”

READ MORE: Tiny homes, big community: Okotoks exploring affordable, eco-friendly homes

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Not everyone is on board.

Almost 200 people have signed a petition against the project. The major issue is the location, said Dawn Smith with the town of Okotoks.

“It’s already a park and you don’t want to lose park space but at this point in time, that’s the only part of land we had,” said Smith. “But we’re hearing loud and clear from citizens that they don’t like the location.”

Smith said the town was anticipating the pushback.

“It wasn’t a huge surprise. We knew it was going to be a very controversial site. It’s not the ideal site.”

Residents said building 32 new homes on an existing green space could have negative effects on neighbouring communities.

Andrew Sittler owns a townhouse in a complex that borders Kinsman Park and said he has been told if the village is built, he could lose up to 20 per cent of his property value.

“For most of us, our life savings are in these places. This is all we have,” Sitter said. “If we were to have to sell and move to somewhere else, we would lose $60,000 of the [property] value.”

Sitter added the potential loss of the park and soccer fields is also concerning.

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“[Property values] were actually our biggest concern to start with but when I heard about these kids down here, that really bothers me more, I think.”

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The town of Okotoks said Kinsman Park was the only piece of land that checked all the boxes in order to qualify for the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund (AHIF). Smith said if the criteria is not met, AHIF could potentially pull its funding.

“The town had to own the land, it had to be serviced and it had to be developable within a two-year window,” Smith said. “We looked at all of our existing inventory and to meet that criteria, that’s the only site that worked at this point in time.”

The project is still in the public consultation phase and Okotoks city council will be debating it in the fall.

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