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Editorial: Tiny houses should be a real option on the Island

We are missing the boat by not enabling the building of tiny houses

It should be easier to have a tiny house on Vancouver Island.

The tiny house trend is no longer new, but it is still going strong. Tiny homes range from home-built to custom contract, and from a couple hundred square feet (18.5 square metres — and no kidding, there are some really, really tiny homes), to about 400 square feet (37 square metres).

There are numerous tiny home tours and testimonials available everywhere from YouTube to cable television shows. Many are beautiful, cutting edge, and inventive. They also demonstrate a lifestyle that is increasingly appealing to people tired of drowning in debt. Living in a tiny house rather enforces minimalism, and many people choose to do so because they can pay for them outright, rather than going into debt to have a home of their own.

Home prices continue to rise, with the last benchmark price for a single family home in Duncan pegged at $480,000 by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board. Malahat and area is $610,000. Rent for apartments, let alone homes is a huge chunk out of people’s paycheques.

So it’s no surprise that people are looking towards tiny homes as a possible solution to their dream of home ownership, or even just putting a roof over their heads.

There absolutely needs to be some standard for these structures. Nobody wants a series of badly-built derelict shacks tossed together and called tiny homes by unscrupulous landlords or sellers. But as it stands now, people can’t build and live in a tiny home in Cowichan. Our local governments have indicated it’s because provincial regulations essentially haven’t caught up yet with tiny homes. We need to get on that.

John Horn, the executive director of the Cowichan Housing Association said tiny homes could go a long way to alleviating the Valley’s housing crisis. He was specifically speaking to the homelessness problem, but we think the conversation is broader than that.

There are many people in Cowichan who need housing that is going to be lower cost than what’s on offer.

From seniors downsizing, to those just starting out, many people now don’t want to take on a mortgage that they’ll have to pay for decades to come.

We are missing the boat by not enabling the building of tiny houses.

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