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November 22, 2017

Hockey arena becomes production hub for tiny houses

Long Plain First Nation is one of the fastest growing First Nation communities in Manitoba. It also has a longstanding housing shortage. So when Chief Dennis Meeches heard about tiny homes at a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation presentation, he saw a big opportunity.

Tiny homes consist of a small kitchen, living area, washroom and bedroom. They are ideal for 1 or 2 occupants. They also provide a solution for people looking to move out of transitional housing and into a place of their own.

With the help of housing staff, the community identified potential sites and tenants for the homes. They also cleaned up properties left vacant due to fire or to last summer’s tornado.

A team, including 14 community members and 2 supervisors, transformed Long Plain’s hockey arena into a production facility. The crew has been busy since July building 12 customized homes. When they finish, a trailer will bring the houses to the cleared sites, and plumbers and electricians living in Long Plain will help finish the homes.

The project is a creative approach to affordable housing for the First Nation. Chief Meeches credits the compact size of the homes, the community-based construction crew and the use of the hockey arena for the overall affordability.

The houses will be installed on secure foundations to withstand the area’s volatile weather conditions. Safety and affordability features will include fire suppression systems and radiant and infrared heating systems.

The new tenants should be in the tiny houses by December 2017. Chief Meeches and his housing staff will offer support as the tenants adapt to their new homes. They’ll also be looking for feedback to determine if the housing could work for seniors in the community. Either way, the Long Plain experience can serve as a model for other communities facing similar housing shortages.

This project was funded by the Government of Canada through the Housing Internship Initiative for First Nations and Inuit Youth (HIIFNIY), and Section 95 Non-Profit Housing Program. It was also made possible thanks to funding from Long Plain First Nation.