Thunder Bay

Lakehead Social Planning Council to talk tiny houses for the homeless

The LSPC will hold a panel discussion on tiny houses as part of its annual general meeting Tuesday evening.

The LSPC will hold a panel discussion on the topic as part of its annual general meeting Tuesday evening

Doug Sauvé built a tiny house in Thunder Bay in 2014. The Lakehead Social Planning Council believes such homes could play a role in battling homelessness in the city. (Heather Kitching)

The Lakehead Social Planning Council is holding a panel discussion Tuesday evening focusing on tiny houses and their potential to help solve homelessness in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Tiny homes have been a big deal for several years now, and specialty TV channels feature entire programs devoted to those who build and live in them. 

Recently, videos have circulated on social media showcasing tiny home communities in other cities constructed for homeless people and senior citizens.

"There's a huge momentum of interest taking place right now, and we thought that this would be a very positive story,"  LSPC director of services Marie Klassen told CBC.

"We're hoping that at the end of all this we have a committee that meets regularly to talk about how we can perhaps get one tiny home as a project to see how it might work in Thunder Bay."  

Lakehead Social Planning Council director of services Marie Klassen said tiny houses could be built in Thunder Bay for about $30,000. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

The discussion will feature people who have built and lived in tiny houses, Klassen said.

LSPC social researcher Bonnie Krysowaty will also discus research on tiny house initiatives in other communities.

"There's so much good data out there around how once it's adopted how it works and how successful it is," Klassen said.

Klassen estimated that the cost of building tiny homes in the city is about $30,000.

Any initiative aimed at building them for social housing purposes would require funding from the province through the District Social Services Administration Board, she said.  It would also require the cooperation of the city to ensure that appropriate zoning was in place and that infrastructure such as water and sewer services could support the homes. 

The LSPC spoke to city council about tiny homes in the fall, Klassen said, and some councillors have signalled their support for the idea.

 Still, she said, it's too early to say if and when a concrete project might get off the ground.

"Everything starts with a conversation," she said. "And I think we've had a number of good conversations and good dialogue around this, and everybody seems quite optimistic."  

The panel discussion takes place as part of the LSPC's annual general meeting at its office at Victoriaville Mall. The AGM takes place at 6:30 p.m., and the panel is scheduled to start at 7:15.