Sudbury

This woman hopes Moosonee allows her to live in her 'tiny home'

There is a tiny house on wheels in Moosonee, the first of its kind to arrive in the community of 1,500.

Patti Cuthbert says people have been curious, and supportive

Patti Cuthbert and Howie Issac hope that Moosonee soon adopts new regulations that would allow them to live in their 'tiny home.' (Supplied by Patti Cuthbert)

There is a tiny house on wheels in Moosonee –  the first of its kind to arrive in the community of 1,500 – just waiting for its owner to move in.

Patti Cuthbert, an advanced care flight paramedic with Ornge, had the house transported all the way from southern Ontario so she could live in it.

That was almost a year ago and it is still sitting there, uninhabited.

'I was looking for my own rental in the spring of 2019 and there simply wasn't anything available," Cuthbert said. "The housing market here, it's interesting. There's not a lot available. And the ones that are more affordable, they require a lot of work."

She said there are also several houses priced out of her range. 

"And being so far north you can tack an extra 20 to 30 per cent onto things like building materials and trades people and things like that."

Although occupying a small space, tiny homes, like this one belonging to Patti Cuthbert, typically are built for year-round use, and include kitchen and bathroom facilities, living and bedroom areas. (Supplied by Patti Cuthbert)

She wasn't even able to get a rental unit, prompting her to look elsewhere for a living space. That's when she found what she thought was the perfect solution: a tiny home being sold on Kijiji,

"I happened to find my tiny house on Kijiji down in Wiarton...I purchased it and had it moved by a mover from Wiarton up to Cochrane and then I had it put on the train and sent all the way up to Moosonee."

So far, she said the tiny home is sitting in the crew house's driveway waiting for the community to approve it as a living space.

According to the province, the size of a tiny home varies from municipality to municipality, depending on standards set out in zoning by-laws.

In all cases, the province says a tiny home cannot be smaller than the minimum required size set out in Ontario's Building Code, which is 17.5 m2 (188 ft2).

The issue, Cuthbert said, are building laws within the community that determine what is a suitable living space. Many other Ontario cities have already incorporated new rules into their bylaws about tiny homes. 

According to Cuthbert, such regulations don't yet exist in Moosonee.

Patti Cuthbert, here with Howie Issac, hope the city lets them settle down in a tiny home they purchased on Kijiji. (Supplied by Patti Cuthbert)

"The council that is in right now, they are trying to make some very positive changes."

Cuthbert said she is hoping that current bylaws can be re-evaluated.

"Up until recently it was generally accepted that tiny houses couldn't meet Ontario Building Code," she said. "But the Ontario government came out with a document back in December, kind of outlining how to have tiny houses follow the Ontario Building Code which has been a big push to make affordable housing available for everybody."

Cuthbert said she's been approached by some members of the council, who have advised her the best way to proceed would be to purchase a property, in the hopes she can put the tiny home there.

Despite the wrangle with community laws, Cuthbert said reaction from her new neighbours has been positive.

"It was amazing actually. When I had the tiny home brought up here and it was being offloaded on the train, there were people driving by and looking at it, like, 'oh my gosh'."

Cuthbert said despite being the first tiny home in the area, the homes have become well-known on several television shows.

"I think most people are very familiar with these tiny houses now, but nobody had ever really seen one up close and so as we were kind of getting it in position where it was going to be stored and leveling it and I don't think I've seen so many people from town that were so curious to have a look inside."

"Overall everyone that I spoke to was so supportive and thought it was such a great idea and it kind of opened up that conversation about living within your means, sustainability and what's possible."

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