WATCH: A couple with a tiny home on wheels says they’re victims of outdated bylaws after they were unable to find a place to park their home.. Calvin To reports.
Robin and Jenn Sheffield say they’re victims of outdated bylaws after they were unable to find a place to park their tiny home on wheels.
They were kicked off an RV park over the weekend and are now staying at a friend’s property in North Saanich.
But their home, officially classified as a trailer, is not a legal residence in North Saanich.
The couple originally tried to purchase a plot of land in Langford to park the home, but they say the city told them it did not meet bylaw requirements.
“It’s like I have to hide it in the shadows,” Sheffield says. “I feel like a criminal. It’s like, Jesus, why won’t you just let me live there?”
In Victoria, garden suites are an allowable form of housing, but they must meet building codes, which means they are required to have utility hookups.
The Sheffields’ home, however, is self-contained. It is solar powered and has a compost toilet.
“I knew it was going to be a challenge. I didn’t think that I wouldn’t be accepted by any of the communities, whether it be a homeowner’s community, whether it be an RV community or mobile home community,” Sheffield says.
It has been a much different experience for Ron Schouten, who had a custom tiny house built in his backyard in Victoria three years ago.
The 600 square foot unit has one bedroom and one bathroom, and was built as a rental property.
Schouten says it is a good option for people looking to rent in the city who want the space of a house without the hassle of roommates.
“This is good, you’re surrounded by a lot of greenery and there are chickens in the backyard, so it makes for a neat, almost rural setting in the city,” Schouten says.
Victoria’s mayor says the city recently streamlined the process to approve of such houses.
Now it costs $200 and takes four weeks to complete.
Previously, it costed thousands and took six to eight months to complete.
“It’s good for ecological footprint, it’s good for an economic bottom line, and it’s really good in cities like Victoria that for all intents and purposes are built out,” says mayor Lisa Helps. “There’s nothing stopping, say, you want to build a tiny home, you’ve got a friend who owns a house in Fairfield, you can build that in their backyard, you pay them rent and there you go.”
Since our original story aired, the Sheffields have received offers of tenancy from several landowners, but the couple says the locations being offered are too far from the city.
They’re now calling for current bylaws to be changed so they can finally settle down.
“Some apartments here [in Victoria] are 300 square feet,” Sheffield says. “What’s the difference between what they’re doing and what I’m doing other than my 300 square feet is on wheels?”