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This article was published 20/10/2016 (2082 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The owners of the city’s only custom builder of tiny houses have a big problem — they haven't been able to convince Winnipeg officials to amend city bylaws to allow for mini homes to be built on individual lots in the city.
"The minimum-size requirements (for houses) have to be looked at," Anita Munn, co-founder and general manager of Mini Homes of Manitoba (MHM), said in an interview Wednesday.
Munn said the requirements vary, depending on the size and location of the lot. She said she's not familiar with all of the details. But she knows that in some areas of the city, houses have to be a minimum of 600 square feet in size and the first mini home she and her husband, Darrell Manuliak, built last year for a Winnipeg mother of two was only 322 square feet.
She said that customer had them build the home on a trailer. Because it's on wheels, rather than a concrete pad, she was able to park in a relative's yard.
"She's been in it now for a year and hasn't had any issues with the neighbours complaining," Munn added.
But she and Manuliak maintain buyers shouldn't have to put their home on a trailer and park it on someone else's property. They should be allowed to have their own lot, similar to how it works in a trailer park.
"We've met with two different councillors. They've been very supportive and we've had great conversations with them, but then nothing ever came of it," she added.
St. Vital councillor Brian Mayes confirmed he met with the couple about a month ago. Mayes said he hasn't had a chance yet to raise the issue with Coun. John Orlikow, chair of the city's property, planning and development committee. But he hopes to do so within the next few weeks.
"I did say I would follow up... and we do owe these folks a response," he added.
He noted the city's largest trailer park — there are three altogether — is in his ward, and it's been there for decades.
"It works pretty well. People (living there) are pretty happy, and they're well-maintained communities. So I'm not ruling out something like this mini-home thing."
He also noted the city is trying to encourage denser housing development, and allowing mini-home communities may be one way of achieving that.
But he said there may be opposition to allowing someone to build a mini-home on a property where there is already an existing home. There also may be some provincial building code requirements that come into play.
"So this isn't a slam dunk by any means. But we should at least take a look at it."
Munn said Saskatoon recently approved the development of a mini-home community. So if other cities are allowing it, why can't Winnipeg, she added.
The tiny-house concept has been around for years in Europe and parts of North America. But the movement has taken on added life in the last few years in the wake of rising rents and soaring house prices, especially in larger cities.
There is also a growing desire among younger people for a simpler, more economically-sustainable lifestyle. And a slew of reality TV shows about tiny homes have helped raise the profile and the demand for this lower-cost housing option.
Munn said MHM can build a mini-home for as little as $60,000.
"The majority of our clients have said that is something I can afford. And the neat thing about them is they can be built onto afterwards (if their space-requirements change)."
She said MHM has completed five homes in the year that it has been in operation, and it has orders for three more. Only one of them was for a client in Winnipeg, and another was for a client in western Manitoba.
But they have a list of about 15 other people who have said they'll buy one as soon as they can find a place to put it, she added.