Couple's tiny-home dream killed by City of Vancouver rules

A couple lived, harmoniously, in a tiny house in an East Vancouver yard, that is until the City of Vancouver discovered their home and handed out a bylaw infraction notice.

An East Vancouver couple built a tiny house but is being forced out by a city bylaw

Owners forced to relocated tiny house due to City of Vancouver bylaws (Cory Grandfield)

Cory Grandfield and his wife Ailsa Macmillan almost lived happily ever after in their tiny house in East Vancouver — that is until the City of Vancouver found out about their living arrangement.

The couple, with the help of two builders, constructed the 220-square-foot tiny house for about $45,000.

"And we moved into a friend's backyard in East Vancouver," said Cory Grandfield, who works in the film industry.

The couple paid to rent the yard space and enjoyed living in their home for 11 months, despite the tight quarters and having no permit from the city to park it in the space.

Grandfield says they weren't lacking the necessities either.

"It has a living room, kitchen, fully self-enclosed bathroom and a loft with a queen-sized bed up top."

Bylaw violations

But they can't live there much longer. Their landlord received a bylaw infraction notice from the City of Vancouver April 6 and they were told by the city to be out by Aug. 1.
Cory Grandfield and his wife, Ailsa Macmillan, and two builders constructed the 220-square-foot tiny house (Cory Grandfield)

The City of Vancouver said in a statement that an order was issued to remove the "oversized wood frame house," [tiny though it may be], parked without a permit or approval from the city, in a laneway on a trailer at the rear of the property.

It said the order was issued after a bylaw officer, following up on a complaint, investigated the small home.

The city says under the current zoning bylaw, the minimum size of a dwelling unit is 398 square feet.  

However, it says micro-suites in specific parts of Vancouver are allowed, including social housing or secured market rental units as small as 320 square feet or in the Downtown Eastside, 250 square feet.

Affordability worries

Grandfield understands city hall's concerns and says a tiny house isn't for everyone, but it is a creative way to help with affordability.

"Due to Vancouver's housing crisis right now, we need to think of a solution, and I think bylaws need to change as to what constitutes a livable situation."

Grandfield and his wife are now looking for a place for their portable tiny house, possibly in Squamish or even Vancouver Island where they plan on renting it out ... as long as they're not violating any more rules.
The interior of Ailsa Macmillan and Cory Grandfield's tiny home. (Cory Grandfield )

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