Big plans for tiny homes

First Nations Friendship Centre announces that a winner has been picked for the Tiny Home Design Challenge

This model of a tiny home was built by John Robinson and Robinson Designs in Regina

This model of a tiny home was built by John Robinson and Robinson Designs in Regina

It’s still in the planning stages, but a community of tiny homes could soon be springing up in Vernon, giving at-risk youth a safe and affordable place to live.

The first tiny home will be built and raffled off as a fundraising initiative on behalf of the Vernon First Nations Friendship Centre (FNFC), and to get the ball rolling the centre recently sponsored the Tiny Home Design Challenge.

“Ten tiny house design submissions for our Tiny Home Challenge came in from designers, architects and forward-thinking individuals from Vancouver to Regina and they are all winners,” said Barry McDougall, youth programs and housing manager for the FNFC.   “The submissions were all high quality in response to a request for a show of interest, following tiny home specifications for designs that were aesthetic, offered unique storage solutions and demonstrated levels of off- grid technology.”

One submission came all the way from Regina, Sask.  when John Robinson of Robinson Designs brought a mock-up model of a tiny home his team has designed and are now considering kits for sale along with an assembly manual.

The FNFC wants to build a tiny home community for youths between 19 and 29 facing barriers to affordable housing or who are at risk of homelessness.

“The FNFCS board of directors are keen to support this initiative to secure more housing so desperately needed in Vernon,” said board member Jerry Reitman.

Like many other communities, Vernon is facing a crisis when it comes to the lack of low-income housing in the city.

“This may be part of the solution,” said Juliette Cunningham, Vernon councillor and committee member of the Affordable Housing Committee. “Everyone has the right to a home.”

The 10 entries in the challenge feature rooftop decks, solar panels, and clever hidden storage nooks — among many other creative design elements — all within just a few hundred square feet, either mobile on a trailer or able to be lifted for transport.

“We expect we will build all 10 designs submitted in our community of tiny homes,” said McDougall.

Vernon architect Doug Warner’s submission was selected as the winner by judges Matt Lunde, 925Rdesign; Wilf Lunde, Lunde Architect Ltd.; Chris Dranchuk, Btr Construction; Olav Felgendreher, Pacific Timberworks.

Warner’s submission was chosen to be the tiny home to be built for the raffle, expected to take place mid-September.

“Once built, the tiny home community may have a lease, or lease-to-own agreement options, but it is all exploratory right now,” said McDougall.

The Aboriginal Housing Management Authority has shown interest in the project  and is watching the progress as is BC Housing — both agencies invest in land and infrastructure for subsidized housing in B.C. The friendship centre currently operates subsidized housing at the Kekuli Apartments, with a long wait list for a vacancy.

“The next step will be to gather more necessary materials and donations from companies and individuals to start construction of the tiny home,” said McDougall. “The community has strongly supported the initiative to date with growing interest.”