96 tiny homes seniors community gets go-ahead from council

LONDON: A 96 tiny homes seniors oriented community has been given the go-ahead by a council.

Councillors voted to rezone land at Two Nations Crossing on the north side to allow for the not-for-profit development.

Each home will have a full kitchen, three-piece bathroom, loft and living space and cost $40,000.

Marcel LeBrun, the founder of 12 Neighbours Inc., said the plan now is to get people housed as quickly as possible. The next step will be building permits.

“We hope that will now happen very quickly. We have our crew ready to go, our materials ordered and we’re starting right away. So we’re swinging hammers tomorrow morning.”

Work has already begun on the site. It’s been cleared, and the houses are being built in a warehouse.

“We’re now going to need approval on our municipal system design so we can put water and sewer in,” he said. “So we’re going to do that at the same time that we’re building the homes.

“And then, when the land is prepped and the lots are ready, then we’ll be able to just move the homes onto the lots and be ready to go.”

He said he expects to have six people housed by Christmas and another six by the end of March.

Inboxes are already filling up with inquiries about living on the site, LeBrun said, and the group will be working with the Department of Social Development and other agencies to assess people’s housing needs and work out a process to match them to a house.

LeBrun said he’s hoping the project will come under the Social Development’s affordable rent program.

“The program does provide for some capital grants for houses and also for rent subsidies for individuals who would be able to be assessed and charged a third of their income as rent instead of full market rates. So we’re working through that with Social Development.”

Several councillors voiced their support for the project during the meeting.

“This may be a game changer for how we lift people up and how we get people from being homeless or with issues and challenges to being more productive and being part of the community,” said Coun. Bruce Grandy.

Some said they would help bring the project together.

“I, too, am offering any help that I can to help move this forward,” said Coun. Kevin Darrah. “It’s really great to see a private citizen step up and do this.”

In an interview after the meeting Mayor Kate Rogers commended the plan.

“We’re in a housing crisis, and we’re going to need a lot of creative minds and a lot of people willing to roll up their sleeves to do, you know, to bring forward projects that are unique and different from what we’ve had in the past.”

She didn’t say what, if any, involvement the city could have with the project as it continues.

“We haven’t gotten to that stage,” she said. “I think the first step was getting it rezoned. And then as [LeBrun] looks at the project and looks at all the various components, I’m certain that the conversations will be continuing, and the city will be very open to those.”

The development will also include a social enterprise centre, which will house a café and a space where people can work and learn new skills. LeBrun said construction on the centre will begin next spring.