Tiny homes for Big Valley

An Alberta village of 350 people plans to get cozier by building a neighbourhood exclusively of tiny homes. Big Valley, 220 kilometres south of Edmonton, intends to build a subdivision containing 22 lots measuring 30 feet by 80 feet.
Big Valley will develop a neighbourhood exclusively for tiny homes. This one was built by a New Brunswick home builder. (CBC)

An Alberta village of 350 people plans to get cozier by building a neighbourhood exclusively of  tiny homes.

Big Valley, 220 kilometres south of Edmonton, intends to build a subdivision containing 22 undersized lots measuring 30 feet by 80 feet. A normal size lot in the village is about 50 feet by 120.

"The idea came from someone calling in and asking to put a tiny log cabin in one of our residential districts," Michelle White, chief administrative officer, said in an interview on Edmonton AM.

"Unfortunately we were not able to accommodate them because of the zoning of the area."

The municipality continued to get requests from people wanting to build homes under 700 square feet — many who were not Big Valley residents.

White said the village council expects many who show interest in tiny homes will be snowbirds, people who want to spend winter in the U.S. while maintaining a Canadian address. 

Council recently decided to change the bylaws to accommodate tiny homes in one subdivision.

"Putting them all together in one subdivision will give unity to the area and a community-type feel," White added.

The homes will have to be on a permanent foundation, be connected to municipal water and sewer and have hook-ups for gas and power.

White said they had to look to the U.S. to find out what regulations existed for tiny home neighbourhoods because they couldn't find a similar model in Canada.
Big Valley is famous for its Wild West storefronts. (Village of Big Valley)

"Hopefully we'll be able to provide a bit of a template for future use."

Before the tiny homes go up, council must pass a land-use bylaw, engineer the subdivision and decide what the lots should cost.

White expects the village will start selling lots this year and estimates the infrastructure will take until 2018 before the neighbourhood is liveable.

Big Valley is home to the Stettler steam locomotive and is known for its Wild West-era store fronts, making it a popular tourist destination, drawing 18,000 to 20,000 visitors a year.