Tiny homes project in Fernie clears first hurdle

Snow Valley Motel gets City of Fernie approval to erect six RV-style accommodation units

Fernie could soon offer a new visitor accommodation experience after a “tiny homes” project cleared the first hurdle.

Snow Valley Motel plans to erect six RV-style accommodation units, known as tiny homes, at its Highway 3 site to provide an alternative for tourists.

The motel previously operated an RV park and campground, which was closed due to the ever-expanding size of RVs and increased competition.

“It was a combination of an outgrown RV park and campground… and the introduction two years ago of the Fernie RV Resort,” said Snow Valley Motel co-owner Jason Burt.

“We knew that was coming and well needed in Fernie, so we fully supported that, but being the only campground prior to that, there wasn’t a lot of option for campers, so the highway served as a great access point for many. But for some, it just wasn’t what they were looking for.

“Fernie as a whole lost out on potential RV-camping revenues and we saw that, so we moved into a new concept of what we think is a unique idea and just started to sketch out and design tiny homes that could be placed on the unit, much like an RV park, just to service the travelling public.”

The project is one step closer to becoming a reality after City of Fernie councillors provided third reading to Bylaw 2359 at the regular meeting of council on August 27.

The bylaw amends the definition of motel in Zoning Bylaw 1750 to allow for up to 50 per cent of the accommodation units in a motel to be provided in a park model RV built form.

In a report provided to council, Manager of Planning Patrick Sorfleet said the concept had merit and would provide an innovative way to increase accommodation units in Fernie.

The bylaw has been referred to the B.C. Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure for approval, with a final decision to be handed down at the next regular meeting of council on September 24.

Burt and his partner Veronique Roy attended the August 27 meeting and were “ecstatic” about the decision.

“The whole project is finally coming together and we’re hoping to see units on the lot shortly,” said Burt.

Their rezoning application was accompanied by four letters of support, including from Tourism Fernie Executive Officer Jikke Gyorki.

“Tourism Fernie supports the need for growing tourism in its community and in ways that are innovative and meet new market trends and opportunities,” she wrote.

“This new expansion fits this.”

Max Hobbs and Ted Allsopp from Hummingbird Micro Homes also support the project.

They said one of the greatest benefits of tiny homes is that they are “far more aesthetically pleasing and foster thoughts of progressive thinking and a shift towards more sustainable ways of living”.

Snow Valley is working with a builder on the tiny homes and Burt said three of the six units were close to completion.

“The remaining three we’re hopeful will be finished and completed by end of September, beginning of October this year, so with the zoning, we’ll be able to place them on the lot,” said Burt.

Once the units are installed, they will require power, water and sewer hook ups as well as natural gas.

Permits will also need to be issued by the City before Snow Valley can open the tiny homes to visitors.

Burt said he hopes to welcome his first guests later this year.

“At this point, we have been delayed but we’re hopeful to see people up to winter season and have them come online just as soon as we can, November-December time,” he said.

“We’re looking forward to the next step.”

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