The village of Big Valley is a popular tourist destination in the summer.

The village of Big Valley is a popular tourist destination in the summer.

Big Valley embracing tiny idea

650-square-foot houses on smaller lots attracting big attention

Big Valley! Tiny Homes! Perhaps that will be the village’s new slogan.

The community — population 347 — is a popular summer destination for thousands of people because of its historical attractions.

Big Valley’s newest attraction — a planned tiny houses subdivision — hasn’t even been built yet but it’s already drawing a lot of interest as well.

“Oh my goodness it has blown up!” Michelle White, chief administrative officer for the village, said Friday.

There’s been so much interest since word got out recently that the village has a waiting list of about a dozen people who want to buy one of the planned 22 smaller lots. The market they’re shooting for could include seniors not ready to move into an assisted living facility, or snowbirds.

Tiny houses have become a growing phenomenon but one of their issues is there are few, if any, places that permit them.

An amendment to Big Valley’s bylaw would allow for the small homes — a maximum of 650 square feet — to be built in the new subdivision with lot sizes of 30 feet by 80 feet. Standard lots there are 50 feet by 120 feet. The homes will need to be on foundations and connected to utility services.

White said they don’t know how much the lots will cost yet. Lots serviced years ago are going for around $25,000 in the village, but when doing an entirely new subdivision, with buried power lines and so on, the “pricing is going to be on a different scale.”

“We’re prepared to be our own developer on this but we’re also very open to being approached by a developer. I think that it would be an incredible opportunity for someone to do that, especially where it’s going to be subdivided, engineered, rezoned, and have a waiting list of buyers.”

She said the idea has moved along quickly as they have only been looking at it since November when someone wanted to put a tiny log cabin in a residential district but its square footage wasn’t something that fit in the current land-use bylaw. So council began to have discussions about “this new and upcoming trend.”

Council gave first reading on Thursday to the required land-use bylaw amendment. The village will address any concerns with a public hearing on April 13 from 7 to 8 p.m. at the village office.

Planners and engineers were being advised on Friday that the village was going ahead with detailed engineering, which would ultimately lead to homes being built in 2018.

Big Valley sees up to 20,000 tourists every year. Jimmy Jock Boardwalk with frontier style stores, Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions and the Jailhouse are some of the local attractions. The village is about 100 km southeast of Red Deer.