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Tiny houses win big attention at Perth campus

Algonquin’s Perth campus played host to a festival showcasing tiny homes and eco-friendly living on April 21.

The event was created to showcase small, minimalist housing. This style of living has become exceedingly popular with dozens of television programs showcasing the structures and their inhabitants.

The homes that were present included compact bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens and lounging areas. Festival goers were given the opportunity to tour two of these houses and see the compact living space, and speak to the craftsmen who built the homes.

“This is the first tiny house that I’ve built,” said Shannon Burchill, who owns one of the two houses. “I’ve built a few regular-sized houses with my dad, and I work for RV Canada, so I thought I would mix the two ideas together. I wanted to make affordable accommodations for people.”

For Burchill, the movement is not just a novelty. His tiny home is priced at $35,000, a drastically lower cost than full-sized homes in the region.

The event was the brainchild of Mary Rothfels and her partner, Mary Stewart. The two designed the event to show the charm of tiny homes and to discuss the small environmental footprint of such minimalistic living. The very nature of small housing, which is downsizing and cutting unnecessary space, lends itself to green living.

With the addition of solar panels and other eco-friendly options, tiny homes leave a much smaller footprint than traditional housing.

“There is a huge appetite for tiny houses,” said Rothfels. “People are here for the tiny home movement. These two homemade houses have a whimsy that commercial homes don’t.”

While the minimalist-living movement is stronger than ever, Rothfels believes that Ontario is lagging behind when it comes to this nontraditional housing.

“Quebec and British Columbia have a ton of tiny home companies, but Ontario has fallen behind,” said Rothfels. “There are a lot of challenges, and the municipalities need to make it easier for people to move around with their homes.”

While searching for a venue to host the event, Rothfels and Stewart reached out to Perth dean Chris Hahn, who was happy to oblige. The Perth campus was a sponsor of the event.

“They came to us to see if we could be a host, and we said sure,” said Hahn. “They’re from Perth, and certainly, with the heritage style of our programs, there is a similarity with the tiny house movement.”

The event proved popular, with more than 500 tickets selling before the day ended.

“People love the charm and the whimsy. You just can’t find it anywhere else,” said Rothfels.


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