Parking a Tiny Home

Fredericton: no tiny homes for you

mini-home park in Fredericton

In our by-laws tour of the country, we stop today in Fredericton, the capital of New Brunswick and a city that recently elected a Green Party MP (what happened next is a story in itself, but beyond the scope of our topic). 

So, we were a bit surprised that it was also one of the least friendly cities when it comes to locating a tiny home. We felt that tiny living would jive well with Fredericton’s ecological values, Saturday market, people saying hello on the street. Not so. 

The first disappointment comes in their zoning by-law for minimum ground floor area for a single dwelling. As a prospective tiny home owner, when you see something like that in the by-law, it’s never a good sign. Here too:

MINIMUM GROUND FLOOR AREA AND DIMENSIONS 

(a) Single Detached Dwellings (MIN) 

(i) Unless otherwise specified in this By-law, the ground floor area for a single detached dwelling shall be: 70 m2 (that’s 753 sq ft)

(ii) Street wall width: 6.7 metres (iii) Side wall depth: 7 metres

So, that means you essentially can’t locate a tiny home as the primary dwelling on your own lot. But can you do it as a secondary dwelling? Judging from the by-laws, it would be quite the tricky problem to solve.

In Fredericton,a garden suite, which is a secondary dwelling located on a lot where another house is already standing, is technically allowed. 

However, it is:

  • “permitted only through a zone amendment process”
  • “permitted only in the R-1 and R-2 zones”
  • “constructed and erected so as to be easily removable”
  • “not […] in the form of a mini-home”

It looks like the minimum dwelling size doesn’t apply here (there is instead a maximum size). However, you will have to apply for a special permission ($$$) to locate your tiny home on the lot of only two residential zones, and it will have to be easily removable, but not on wheels. 

The only glimmer of hope comes from the fact that the City of Fredericton does recognize the potential existence of tiny homes in their definition of “mini-home”: 

Mini-Home means a prefabricated or “factory-built” moveable dwelling containing 1 dwelling unit designed to be transported on its own chassis or undercarriage, connected to utilities and designed for year-round living. 

Traditionally, these homes in Fredericton were container homes or other types of mobile homes, but that’s really a difference of style (and size). Fredericton does have several mini-home parks  in the city. These are currently very established communities of mobile homes where no lots are available for lease. You’re more likely to find a mobile home for rent or sale.

Here’s what that looks like (quite lovely, actually, but not what we’re looking for):

Photo: Google Maps

There is one other zone that allows mini-homes – the RMH zone (Residential Mini-Home). This seems to be a theoretical zone at the moment as it is not found anywhere on the zoning map of Fredericton. Instead of being a mini-home park, where the park buys the land, adds private roads, and then leases the lots, this zone allows for small individual lots to be bought in the city, with access from a public road. We’ll believe it when we see it. 

Our conclusion is that, RIGHT NOW, building a new tiny home in Fredericton or bringing one in would be very challenging if you want to follow the zoning rules. 

However, tiny homes are starting to make their way into the local consciousness. In the past couple of years, there were several non-profit projects in and around Fredericton involving building tiny homes –  for the First Nation communities in the area and as a raffle for Big Brothers Big Sisters

Things may be changing. Until then, for more information and to check if anything has been updated, see the full zoning by-law on the City of Fredericton website: https://www.fredericton.ca/en/city-hall/zoning-bylaw

 

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