Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut September 20, 2016 - 4:00 pm

Tiny homes could cure western Nunavut town’s growing pains

Cambridge Bay's community plan aims for 270 new homes by 2035

JANE GEORGE
Cambridge Bay Mayor Jeannie Ehaloak, at right, discusses a map from the Cambridge Bay Community Plan, 2015 to 2035, at a recent open house held at the hamlet office, which drew about 20 residents. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
Cambridge Bay Mayor Jeannie Ehaloak, at right, discusses a map from the Cambridge Bay Community Plan, 2015 to 2035, at a recent open house held at the hamlet office, which drew about 20 residents. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
This old Hudson's Bay Co. building is among those to be featured in Cambridge Bay's new heritage park.
This old Hudson's Bay Co. building is among those to be featured in Cambridge Bay's new heritage park.
This federal building, which once housed a school, and then the RCMP detachment, will find a new home in Cambridge Bay's heritage park. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
This federal building, which once housed a school, and then the RCMP detachment, will find a new home in Cambridge Bay's heritage park. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

CAMBRIDGE BAY—Soon Cambridge Bay plans to join the tiny house movement as the hamlet moves to provide affordable housing options to its growing population.

The tiny house movement advocates living simply in small homes—a residential structure under 500 square feet—a bit smaller than the “512” houses the federal government built in the eastern Arctic during the 1950s and 1960s, which measured 512 square feet.

The matchbox houses that the federal government built throughout the eastern Arctic at around the same time were even smaller: about 288 square feet.

But reasonably-priced tiny homes, which could arrive prefabricated and ready-to-live in by sealift, are now part of how Cambridge Bay envisions creating a better future.

To that end, its 29-page, 2015-2035 community plan, recently discussed in an open house held at the hamlet office, contains 10 “required actions.”

These include a pilot project to build tiny homes and “other non-conventional housing,” to ensure affordable housing for its population, which is expected to grow by an expected 46 per cent, to reach about 2,500 residents by 2035.

Housing everyone will mean the addition of 270 dwellings to the existing stock of 501 private dwellings—so 13 units each year over the next 20 years—and the creation of a new neighbourhood at the outskirts of town.

Cambridge Bay also wants to get rid of old or abandoned buildings around town and adopt a “beautification/streetscaping plan” to make core area more people-friendly.

The hamlet is already moving ahead with another of the plan’s calls—the creation of a heritage park in the back of the hamlet building by the shore.

The park is expected, among other things, to be a draw for the many cruise ship passengers who visit the town.

The park’s buildings, slated to be moved before winter sets in, include old Hudson’s Bay buildings and a federal building that once housed the first school and then the RCMP.

The buildings will eventually be set within “a sculptural type forest,” created with the discarded metals left in the community and made by youth involved in an Art and Skill development program that the hamlet wants to establish for at-risk youth. 

“By involving youth in a project that will have community and Canadian wide significance, the intent is that the youth involved will take ownership of the park and be able to write their own positive legacy in the community,” reads a hamlet document on the park.

The plan’s action items also include the relocation of the tank farm from the centre of town.

And the plan looks at regulating cabins outside the community on municipal lands as well and making sure these are “restricted to certain locations and that these cabin areas are to kept tidy and clean and representative of the land.”

Before its adoption by the Hamlet of Cambridge Bay, the plan is sure undergo some changes—and it will also require bylaw changes and a review by the minister of Community and Government Services.

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