‘Medieval Villages’ a solution to housing affordability

So-called medieval villages are being touted as a potential solution to housing affordability in Canada, offering off-the-grid homes at an unbeatable price.

Anthony Barrett, project manager of Medieval Boreal Forest Villages in the Timiskaming district of northern Ontario, said the houses are essentially campgrounds with farmhouses built in unorganized townships, where no building permit is required.

“The good thing is that through this we have solved affordability issues. It’s very inexpensive to invest in property and it keeps people safe,” he said. Thursday at CTV’s Your Morning.

Barrett said the properties are half an acre in size, have no access to plumbing, and cost $2,400, with property taxes totaling about $18 a year. However, Barrett noted that villages should not be confused with medieval-related cosplay.

“Medieval villages are a world where we have limits – we have energy limits and we have waste limits and we manage all of these systems ourselves,” Barrett explained.

Boreal Forest Medieval Villages had three projects for its communities, totaling over 800 acres of land.

Although no building permit is required, owners must follow certain rules. For example, septic tanks are prohibited, so residents must rely on either an incinerator or a composting toilet.

“When we talk about people wanting to own property and wanting their own housing and wanting to manage their own food supply, that’s seen as radical. It says a lot about where we are today as a society,” he said. Barrett said.

Barrett says Boreal Forest Medieval Villages is an eco-friendly community, where residents grow and harvest their own food and use sustainable energy sources, such as solar panels. He added that the community can do this because it is located in an unorganized township, rather than a municipality with an administrative body.

“People can grow their own vegetables, raise their own personal chickens… pretty basic things, but those are things that we just can’t [or] we are not allowed to do in typical municipalities. So that gives us a lot of freedom to develop the type of community that we are looking for,” he said.

Barrett said the main draw for people is that it’s essentially the most affordable housing option in the province.

According to the latest housing market report from real estate firm WOWA, the average price of homes in the housing market in Canada was $748,439 in January 2022, up 20% from last year.

Additionally, Barrett noted that villages appeal to those looking to leave busy cities and live in nature, which has become more desirable for people amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re attracting people from across Ontario, across Canada and outside of Canada who see this as a real alternative,” he said.

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