A rendering of the Homestead Project being built in Okotoks. Phase 1 of the “eco-village” includes 42 tiny homes.
Town of Okotoks
It’s a big protest against tiny homes.A small group of Okotoks residents that formed on social media brought a petition with 1,450 signatures to town council during a meeting Monday in an attempt to end the town’s pursuit of a tiny home eco-village. Council rejected the group’s request to immediately withdraw from signing the lease but encouraged the group to continue the petition.“Council is still in control, in that, if they don’t like the terms of this land lease that comes up, they don’t have to sign it. Council can stop it and that’s why we presented the petition to them now,” said Ryan Nix a co-founder of the newly formed Okotoks Ratepayers Community Group on Tuesday.“We wanted council to know how the petition was going and what we have been hearing from the community.”The 1,450 signatures represent about 5 per cent of the town’s population but for the group to have a legal foothold, they need to collect the signatures of at least 10 per cent of the population. The petition is open until the end of July, 60 days after council approved it during a meeting on May 27. The group has only been actively seeking signatures for nine days, which Nix said shows just how quickly their movement spread.“I’m very confident right now that we’ll get enough signatures. This is only a group of citizens with no budget and no funding and we’ve really just chipped in our own money to do this,” said Nix.“For the first four or five days, no one really knew about the petition. Now that we’re into it, we have a ton of requests from people who want to go out and collect signatures from their friends, family and neighbours.”The first phase of the project was approved by council at the end of May, which would include the $4.26-million construction of 42 tiny homes the town would use for affordable housing, market-rate rentals, short-term vacation rental units and homes for purchase by 2021.Coun. Tanya Thorn said, during the Monday meeting, council moved to have town administration bring forward a completed lease agreement for the first meeting in September which gives the group their full 60 days of petitioning before council makes a final decision. She isn’t shocked by the petition’s quick growth because of the conversations she’s had with residents.“It doesn’t matter what group or event I go to it is the number one talking point right now,” said Thorn, who was one of two dissenting votes against the project in May.Nix, who has lived in Okotoks for two years, said the group isn’t opposed to affordable housing or the concept of tiny homes but believes the town could be using the money going into this project to fund better affordable housing projects. He doesn’t think the tiny homes would be an affordable housing solution for small families, who might need more space than the 350 to 550 square feet homes would offer.He said other affordable housing plans would be “less risky” for the town to pursue.The group will continue to collect signatures for the petition with anticipation of reaching 3,000 and growing their closed Facebook group, Okotoks Ratepayers Community Group.firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter.com/BabychStephanie