Housing displaced and reno-victed persons in tiny homes is no quick fix, Pamela Robertson, founder of Sunshine Tiny Homes, told a West Howe Sound Community Association meeting on Wednesday.

At the Sunshine Tiny Homes construction site on Shaw Road in Gibsons two homes are being built. On the right is a 24-ft. model. The one under the tarp will be 34 ft. long.

She has been planning for the past two years to build a tiny-home community for housing-challenged people on a property in West Howe Sound.

After several near-misses at finding a location, she has honed in on a 11.7-hectare site at 2104 Twin Creeks Road. She needs investors and supporters to help fund its purchase, which would cost close to $900,000. Over 50 tiny homes would be allowed on the site. She wants to start with a dozen, she said on the phone Thursday.

She has taken her proposal to Pamela Goldsmith Jones, MP for Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky, and to BC Housing. Their initial response was that similar projects take eight to ten years to complete, Robertson said at the meeting. She is planning a brainstorming session with them for the end of April “to look for pockets of federal funding.”

The project would not be subsidized housing, Robertson said. The home owners would a mixed-demographic and likely include many seniors. “People don’t want to be at the mercy of rental units that are ridiculously over-priced. We’re looking for a solution here without it becoming a low-income, stigmatic solution.” 

The property’s current zoning allows for an RV park, which means that housing on the site must be temporary. Robertson’s tiny homes are designated as RVs. Sizes range from 240 to 420 sq. ft. The homes, which look more like conventional homes than trailers, are long and slim, so they can fit on a truck bed and travel at highway speeds. Robertson charges $65,000 for her smallest tiny home and $120,000 for the largest model.

However, for tiny homes to feel like home, they should be permanent, Robertson told the meeting.

In addition to her plans for the Twin Creeks site, she has been building tiny homes for individual property owners. As yet, the homes are deemed to be temporary housing throughout the Sunshine Coast Regional District. Robertson is lobbying the district to change its bylaws so tiny homes could become permanent dwellings.

Ian Winn, former SCRD director for Area F (West Howe Sound), said Bylaw 310, which regulates secondary dwellings, is going through a major overhaul that might affect the issue.

Robertson said she is hoping the district will use the bylaw update to revive a temporary use permit pilot project. That would allow “temporary” to extend to three or six years on properties zoned for auxiliary dwellings.  

Both Winn and Mark Hiltz, current area F director, urged attendees to voice their ideas about alternative housing through the SCRD’s online survey. It contains 34 questions and has space for comments.

“It’s worth doing,” Hiltz said. The survey is available on the SCRD website until April 15.

Also through the SCRD website, people can report bylaw violations on properties near their home, he said. The issue came up in response to questions at the meeting. Hiltz was asked about a possible non-assessed second building and flooding associated with a large acreage on Port Mellon Highway, overlooking the ferry in Langdale.

He said the flooding was on the road to the property, so it would be a Capilano Highways concern. Capilano Highways is contracted by the Ministry of Highways to maintain local roads.

Hiltz said he would investigate the assessment issue.

The next WHSCA meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12, at Eric Cardinall Hall in Shirley Macey Park. The topic will be the Howe Sound biosphere.