Tiny house project proposed for downtown Whitehorse

The Blood Ties Four Directions Centre Society is asking for a city zoning amendment to allow five tiny homes on a downtown lot.

The Blood Ties Four Directions Centre Society wants to put 5 units on one downtown lot

An artist's rendering of the proposed 'Steve Cardiff Tiny House Community Project,' in downtown Whitehorse. The five tiny homes would each be 240 square feet in size. (City of Whitehorse )

The Blood Ties Four Directions Centre in Whitehorse is looking to build a group of tiny houses in the city, for people experiencing homelessness, poverty or health issues.

The organization is asking the city for a zoning amendment to allow five of the units on its recently-purchased downtown lot, at Sixth Avenue and Jarvis St. The city's current zoning only allows for four dwellings on the property.

The "Steve Cardiff Tiny House Community Project" was started when Blood Ties Four Directions built one tiny house, in 2012. It was named after the Yukon NDP MLA who died in a traffic accident in July 2011. 

That house was on a private, undeveloped downtown lot, but had to be moved in 2016 because the land owner was going to develop the property.

'Our vision for the lot is to move the Steve Cardiff tiny house from storage, set it up in the lot, and complement it with four similar, small tiny homes,' said Patricia Bacon of the Blood Ties Four Directions Centre Society. (Mike Rudyk CBC)

Patricia Bacon, executive director of the Blood Ties Four Directions Centre Society, says the tiny house was put in storage. Now, with a new downtown lot purchased, she says it's time to put it back into use.

"Our vision for the lot is to move the Steve Cardiff tiny house from storage, set it up in the lot, and complement it with four similar, small tiny homes — for a total of five units," Bacon said.

The organization is pushing for five homes on the lot, saying that will help repay loans and offer better economies of scale.

'Forever' homes

The original Steve Cardiff tiny home was used as a transitional home for vulnerable people, but Bacon says the new units won't be the same. She says they're meant to be "forever" homes for people.

"For many of the clients that we were housing, telling them that, 'here's a house for you to live in, but you only have a year,' was, in a way, its own sense of pressure," Bacon said.

"They knew within a year that they would have to then find somewhere else to live, and often there wasn't a next step for them."

All five homes will adhere to building codes and have city services. The new units will each be 240 square feet in size.

Bacon says the organization is also asking for individual outdoor bike storage, because of limited space inside the homes.

Mike Ellis, the city's senior planner, says other nearby properties are already densely populated. City staff are recommending the zoning amendment be approved.

City council will have first reading of the amendment on Monday.

The five tiny houses, taken together, would still be smaller than many Whitehorse homes. (Kobayashi & Zedda Architects )

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