An innovative plan to create a village of tiny homes in the centre of Okotoks has altered by town council.
On Sept. 24, council in the city of 30,000, just south of Calgary, voted to change the site of the Vagabond Tiny Homes project from Kinsmen Park to D’Arcy Ranch, on the northwest edge of the town.
The change came after an outcry by Okotoks residents.
“The town is growing too big, too quickly,” said Okotoks resident Kayleen Hellard.
Kinsmen Park is a recreational greenspace located on Oak Avenue and was one of the only spots within the town that met the project’s requirements.
Hellard believes the concept is a good idea and has even considered living in a tiny home herself.
But she felt the location was wrong.
“I don’t mind tiny home development but it’s a bad spot, because it’s already very congested here,” said Hellard.
The proposal will bring 40 fully functioning houses ranging in size from 375 to 600 square feet, into a single village style development.
Vagabond Tiny Homes aims to create affordable and eco-friendly housing units, while maintaining smaller than average sizes.
Okotoks council considered the tiny home project because it believes the village will bring a sense of community back to the town.
“We’re a small town and it would be good for us as a community. It will bring us closer together,” said Okotoks resident Kayla Campbell.
Campbell supports the housing concept, but also expressed concern over the location.
“I remember using that park when I was younger. I think there could be better places for this type of project,” said Campbell.
Main concerns among residents included the location, loss of greenspace and renter quality, according to an update on Okotoks.ca.
Campbell moved to Okotoks after growing up in Scotland.
She values the sense of community Okotoks has and how friendly the residents are.
“Everyone here is so friendly and I think this is a good opportunity for the town to create something different. Hopefully they can find a better location,” said Campbell.
After residents were informed about Kinsmen Park plan, a petition against the project was started.
Mabyn and John Carmichael, whose property faces Kinsmen Park, believed that the location was not suitable.
“I think it’s a good idea but we’re very unsupportive of where the houses go,” said Mabyn Carmichael.
The Carmichaels use Kinsmen park for activities such as dog walking and cross country skiing in the winter.
When they moved into their current house, it was originally only 650 square feet in size.
“We thought it would drive us crazy, but it was really fun,” said Mabyn Carmichael.
Although she does not agree on the location, she believes that the tiny home concept would fit in well in Okotoks.
“It’s more personal here than the city. You still smile at people when you see them,” said Mabyn Carmichael.
Another concern is that there is only one playground in Kinsmen Park.
“There are low income families here, and the children need a place to play, they don’t have backyards.
“Take the park away, and they have nowhere to play,” she said.