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Mini homes movement making progress in Manitoba

The tiny-home movement arrived in Manitoba with an open house for the first tiny home sold in the province back in 2015.

Now, the couple behind the concept are drumming up interest from prospective buyers, millennials and retired folk as the movement takes its next steps.

<p>Anita Munn, top right, and her husband, Darrell Manuliak, left, and daughter Bridget Stewart in one of their mini homes that is getting ready for delivery.</p>

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Anita Munn, top right, and her husband, Darrell Manuliak, left, and daughter Bridget Stewart in one of their mini homes that is getting ready for delivery.

Mini Homes of Manitoba Inc. has been working for almost two years on changes to bylaws and zoning to make tiny-home living legal in Manitoba.

Co-founder Anita Munn and her husband, Darrell Manuliak, want to start a "tiny home" village by co-purchasing land with a group, providing they attract enough interest.

On Thursday, the couple hosted a meeting at their offices on Brookside Boulevard, which also doubles as a construction site. About 40 people packed into the small space between two micro-homes under construction at the extra-large storage unit.

"A lot of municipalities are more welcoming to tiny homes, off the wheels and on a foundation," Munn said. "Then it's just a matter of applying for a variance on their zoning requirements."

The couple, who custom-design and build the homes, have sold seven of them in the last two years. Five others are now under construction.

"This is not for everyone. There are still people who want a large home, but more and more people are finding they don't need as much space."

To push the agenda forward, the couple invited representatives from Tiny House Festival Foundation, a Vancouver non-profit, to make a presentation.

A couple from the foundation are driving cross-country, making a tour this month of 11 cities from Toronto to Kamloops.

"In Vancouver, we're looking at a situation where the housing crisis is in full swing, and a lot of people are investigating this as an affordable option," said foundation co-founder Lisa Chessari, a little road-weary after an eight-hour drive from Thunder Bay.

That’s not to say there isn’t a world of difference between a crowded city squeezed between the ocean and mountains on the Pacific coast and Canada’s endless heartland in big sky country.

But affordability, sustainability are driving the concept forward, Chessari said.

"Now we're looking at how we can become developers. Our mission with the tour is to see how we can develop communities, how to look at co-purchasing land. That all depends on the province you live in, what makes the most sense for the finances of the group," she said.

Deborah Lavallier likes the concept of creating a community. She owns several acres in St. Norbert.

"I like the idea of like-minded people living together. We could have a community. The land is right on the river — we could have docks, canoes, kayaks, a gazebo, a barbecue. And you're 10 minutes from the city."

Don Magnussen eyed the 342-square-foot tiny home under construction in the unit and said, "We're looking at downsizing, and we're looking at tiny homes, but not this tiny. Maybe 500 to 600 square feet, but we don't have the land. The problem is finding a place to put these homes."

Cities typically frown on setting up a trailer and living in it on private property, unless the land is designated as a camp ground or a mobile home park.

The City of Winnipeg allows for tiny homes as detached secondary suites provided they meet zoning and building codes.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Alexandra Paul.

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Updated on Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 8:38 PM CDT: adds photo

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