City partners with UW School of Architecture to explore tiny homes to help address affordable housing

Posted on Tuesday July 27, 2021

Cambridge, Ontario. Tonight, Cambridge City Council approved a contribution of $15,000 to support a partnership between the City and the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture to research tiny homes as one option to help create affordable and innovative housing solutions in the City of Cambridge.

 “This partnership with the School of Architecture is one way we can work toward addressing the growing housing gap and creating more attainable options for all,” said Mayor Kathryn McGarry. “As our city and region continues to expand we need to look at different and creative ways to address present and future issues, like housing affordability and availability.”

A tiny home is a dwelling of any form (apartment, detached dwelling, etc.) that is sized to meet its occupants needs with little excess space. While there is no universal definition of “tiny homes”, they are generally understood to be dwelling units with significantly smaller floor areas than traditional houses.

In May 2021, Council directed staff to investigate options to encourage the development of small and tiny dwellings, including, best practices, acceptable sizing, requirements, land use, and any other necessary requirements to allow for the development of tiny homes as an affordable and attainable option.

Earlier this year, the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture approached the City with an opportunity to partner on a second phase of research related to the use of tiny homes as part of an affordable housing solution. Phase Two of the research project involves constructing a tiny home prototype that could be used by the community as a more affordable and attainable housing option. Phase One of the project relates to the use of Tiny Homes for emergency type shelters.

This municipal support will enable the School of Architecture to apply for additional grant funding.

This partnership represents a strong alignment to the City’s Strategic Plan - Cambridge Connected, which identifies increasing housing options as one of its 13 Strategic Actions. The research will provide practical insights into construction, costing and servicing.

As well, the prototype developed as part of the School of Architecture’s studio program will provide tangible examples that can be explored by the larger community and encourage a broader conversation around tiny homes and attainable housing in Cambridge. 

 “We know that the demand for housing is growing,” said Hardy Bromberg, Deputy City Manager of Community Development. “We are excited to partner with the UW School of Architecture on a prototype and learn more about tiny homes and how this innovative trend can help us address housing scarcity in our city.”

A report back to Council is expected before the end of 2021.

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