Collège Boréal will build a prototype tiny house for northern Ontario

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A new three-year project from Collège Boréal in Sudbury, Ontario, will examine how small houses can be built and adapted to northern Ontario.

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) provided the college with a grant of $120,000 per year to continue the project.

Sabine Bouchard, director of research and innovation at Collège Boréal, said the school has just begun the planning phase, where students will work with partners to design a tiny house that can withstand the northern climate of Ontario.

The second year will focus on fabrication, where students will build the house. And the third year, and final phase, will focus on testing and evaluating their prototypes.

“We hope to organize a conference that will really help educate the public about tiny homes and the possibilities of this type of housing in the city of Sudbury,” said Bouchard.

Meet the city’s housing needs

If all goes as planned, the school will have a successful prototype that can be produced in larger numbers and help meet the city’s housing needs.

Bouchard said the NSERC grant will pay for research, building materials and provide funds to pay students and staff working on the tiny house.

The multidisciplinary project will involve students from various backgrounds such as carpentry and plumbing.

Collège Boréal is also partnering with an organization called the Tiny Town Association for the project.

Ed Peterson, founder and chief operating officer of the Tiny Town Association, said the association’s goal was to build communities where tiny homes could be an achievable reality.

Michael Cullen of Habitat for Humanity says the organization plans to move to modular homes in northern Ontario. (Provided by Michael Cullen)

The association is based in Kingston and is working to build its first small community of houses in southern Ontario.

But Peterson said his organization will work closely with Collège Boréal and travel to Sudbury a few times a year to collaborate on the tiny house prototype.

“What we hope to do with the partnership in [Collège Boréal] is to work on looking at different tiny home designs that consider both affordability of construction and how the home will perform in northern conditions,” Peterson said.

habitat for humanity

Similarly, Habitat for Humanity Ontario Gateway North, which covers Parry Sound, Sudbury and the districts of Nipissing and Cochrane, plans to move to modular homes.

Michael Cullen, director of community partnerships for the organization, said it hopes to build a modular home factory in Sudbury that could eventually increase production by hundreds of homes in a year.

Cullen said the project would also create new jobs in the community.

He said Habitat for Humanity was in preliminary talks with architectural firms, builders and community organizations to launch the project.

The pivot represents a big change from building a few houses a year with the help of volunteers.

But Cullen said the organization’s board fully supports the move to modular homes and is having a bigger impact that way.

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