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District paves the way for tiny houses in Prince George region

Regional District of Fraser-Fort George looks to drop minimum floor area for homes
Tiny house
Vancouver artist Germaine Koh created an exhibit demonstrating tiny house design. Glacier Media file photo by Daisy Xiong

Looking for a place to build a tiny house? You will soon be able to add the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George to your list.

On Thursday the regional district board of directors unanimously voted in favour of changes to the district’s zoning bylaws, eliminating the minimum floor area requirement for the first floor of a dwelling. Final approval of the change will require approval of the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, because it will affect land within 800 m of controlled highway intersections.

“This just removes one more barrier as we are looking for more affordable and environmentally-friendly housing options,” director Dannielle Alan said. Alan spearheaded the effort to allow tiny homes in the regional district by bringing the issue to the board.

Under the district’s current regulations, the first floor of a home is required to be a minimum of 40 sq. metres (430.5 sq. feet) , and up to 85 sq. metres (915 sq. feet) depending on the zoning, according to a report presented to the board on Thursday. If approved, the changes would eliminate the minimum.

However, houses would still have to meet the requirements in the B.C. Building Code. The B.C. Building Code doesn’t specify a minimum floor area for a home, it does set out a minimum area over which the ceiling height shall be provided.

Under the code, a one-bedroom, one-bathroom home without a hallway or entry foyer could be as small as 30 sq. metres. (323 sq. feet).

A public hearing held on April 2 drew no comments for or against the change, according to a district report.

Between 2016 and 2020, the smallest home built in the regional district was 65 sq. metres (700 sq. feet), with a 48 sq. metre (517 sq. foot) main floor.

Out of 236 building permits for homes issued by the regional district between 2016 and 2020, only five were smaller than 140 sq. metres (1,507 sq. feet), the report said.

The City of Prince George’s building bylaw also doesn’t set any minimum size requirements for houses, except those in the BC Building Code.