Evansdale residents criticize proposed north Edmonton site for tiny home village for veterans

The Homes for Heroes Foundation has plans to build the village of tiny homes for veterans on a wedge of empty city-owned land in Evansdale. But not everyone is on board with the location.

'If anyone ... took the time and made a drive to this location, they would see our concerns'

An artist rendering of the proposed Homes for Heroes Foundation village for veterans in Edmonton's Evansdale community. (Homes for Heroes Foundation)

A project to build tiny, temporary housing for homeless veterans in Edmonton is facing some opposition from residents around its proposed location in the city's northeast. 

The Homes for Heroes Foundation is still in the pre-planning stages with the City of Edmonton to build a village of about 20 homes, less than 300-square feet each, on a wedge of empty city-owned land in Evansdale, at 153rd Avenue and 94A Street.

While some Evansdale residents support the idea, not everyone is on board with the location.

The site was chosen after analysis of surplus city land between the city and the foundation, said Jon Dziadyk, the city councillor for the area, noting its proximity to Canadian Forces Trail/97th Street and veteran supports at the Edmonton Garrison.

"This is for homeless veterans and I would suggest that the problem of homelessness that we have in Edmonton should not just be solved in downtown alone," Dziadyk said in an interview with CBC Edmonton's Radio Active on Tuesday.

'Very unnerving'

But the proposed location, Evansdale resident Maxine Piche says, is too busy.

"If anyone came to this location, they took the time and made a drive to this location, they would see our concerns," Piche said.

"On any given day there could be up to five or six emergency vehicles that go up and down the street at varying times of the day and night. It would just be very, very unnerving for the people who would live right at that curb."

She added that the land is an important green space for the community.

"It holds very mature spruce trees and other trees. They've been there for probably 35 years." 

Jeff Muiselaar, president of the Evansdale Community League, said more than 80 people from the community came out to a Homes for Heroes open house last spring. Muiselaar said the league would remain neutral on the development. 

'Great need'

David Howard, the president and co-founder of the Homes for Heroes Foundation, says he hasn't heard directly from residents who are opposed to the proposed site, but hopes any concerns could be resolved through more information sessions. 

David Howard is the president and co-founder of Homes for Heroes Foundation. He says initiatives like this should happen all across Alberta. (Erin Collins/CBC)

"I think there are some individuals who really don't understand post-traumatic stress," Howard said. "We want the community to be part of this village and we want them to be proud of it."

Howard said there was some early opposition to the Homes For Heroes development that opened in Calgary's Forest Lawn community in November, but now the village is being warmly welcomed in that city.

The need for a village in Edmonton is great, he added, where there are over 100 homeless veterans. 

"This is something that we believe that everyone in Edmonton should be very proud of and they could look to it and say, 'This is how we treat our veterans,'" Howard said. "They're fighting for our freedoms that all of us as Canadians enjoy today and they are in their time of need."

About 85 per cent of the roughly $4 million needed for the Edmonton village has already been raised, Howard said. 

The foundation plans to move forward with another open house and a rezoning application in January or February. 

Residents will get a chance to speak to city council before a decision is made for the land, said Dziadyk, who is also a navy reservist.

"I always welcome dissenting opinions and that's how we make decisions on council," he said. "But at some point, we've got to move on."


Thandiwe Konguavi


Thandiwe Konguavi is an award-winning journalist, born in Zimbabwe. She is a reporter/editor at CBC Edmonton. Reach her at thandiwe.konguavi@cbc.ca or follow her on Twitter:

With files from Madeleine Cummings


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