Tiny homes in large demand in Almaguin region
Arcadia Off Grid Community offering different kind of living
By Lee McConnell Almaguin News Monday, March 1, 2021
A new off-grid community located just outside of South River is thinking big, while staying small.
The Arcadia Off-Grid Community is a tiny home community located within the unorganized township of Lount, just a short drive from South River. Monika Colaizzi, Arcadia co-owner and director of internet and marketing, said they’re hoping to create a co-operative style community based on sustainability.
“Eating better, living smaller, and not utilizing so many of the materialistic type of things we’ve become so used to” were some of the goals of the community,” she said…
Colaizzi said the idea for Arcadia started as a way for her and the other owners of the property to live more simply and moving toward something to do for retirement. But she said once they started sharing their story, more people wanted to take part in that dream.
“I’m basically turning business away because we can’t keep building fast enough,” she said. “Everyone wants one now.”
Colaizzi said they purchased the land in 2018 and worked mostly on improving roads and other infrastructure. Housing construction started in 2019, and Colaizzi said there are currently six houses in the finishing stages. She said they’re hoping occupants can move onto the property in the spring.
Prospective community members can apply to purchase a tiny house, which would then have to be built either by themselves with their own supplied crew, or with the help of other Arcadia members. The home is owned by the resident, but the property it’s on belongs to Arcadia.
According to the Arcadia website, the cost of the houses provided by Arcadia staff range from $45,000 to $89,000 (plus HST) depending on size and style of house selected, and monthly fees are $250, plus tax, per month for Arcadia-built homes, and $350, plus tax, per month for self-built homes. There is no official limit to the size of the homes constructed, but sizes typically range from 100-500 square feet.
The houses are completely off the grid, meaning solar power and other methods must be used for electricity and heating.
Colaizzi said that since the property is in an unorganized township, they don’t have the same zoning requirements and other regulations that require certain size and number of dwellings on a single property. However, she noted that all the buildings and constructions are built to code.
Colaizzi said she thinks initiatives like Arcadia can provide a solution to some of the housing shortages in the area, and hopes that municipalities across the province can consider easing some of their zoning laws to allow for alternative housing options.
“With them having the problem of people being homeless and finding that they’re living beyond their means, I think that would alleviate a lot of issues there,” she said.
J.J. Blower, communications officer for the District of Parry Sound Social Services Administration Board, said all housing options are worth exploring.
“It’s great that these things are happening and hopefully that will allow for more vacancies in other more affordable units,”
Blower spoke about the housing continuum, and how housing options in any form can help to alleviate the pressure on the overall market and help people on the lower end of the continuum find a housing solution that works for them.
“The tiny house option seems like an appealing option for some, but unfortunately most tiny houses still cost much more than what the average person experiencing homelessness or qualifying for affordable housing can afford,” she said.
For more information on Arcadia and details about purchasing a tiny house there, visit its website at arcadiaoffgridcommunity.ca
Story Behind the Story: When this newspaper heard about Arcadia, we reached out to learn more about the community and decided to dig deeper into how initiatives, like tiny homes and off-grid communities, fit into the greater housing picture in areas like Almaguin.