Rules won’t let N.S. woman live off the grid
Cheryl Smith wants to live off the grid, but has found it’s not easy to cut her ties with the power company.
She wants to live in a 14-by-20-foot home. She was planning to move in a year ago, but without an occupancy permit, the Shelburne County woman says she has been held back.
“I just don’t want to leave a big footprint on the earth,” she says. “I want to try and be as environmentally friendly as possible.”
The move to mini homes is a new trend that’s growing in the United States, and is getting increasingly popular in Canada.
Smith doesn’t want electricity in her home. According to code, however, it’s essential so she can have proper smoke detectors and an air exchange system.
“If what we’re trying to do is move the world into a greener place and make it more environmentally friendly so there’s something still left for our children, then why am I being forced to rely on electricity or fossil fuels if I don’t want to?’” says Smith.
Smith’s father, Don, has been helping her. He tried to wire her home, but she told him to stop, saying she won’t give in to regulations.
Don Smith says his daughter deserves the freedom to choose her own way of life and style of home.
“She wants to live the way her grandparents did back then,” he says. “It’s a decision a lot of people may not agree with, but I mean, it’s not a decision that’s going to hurt someone else.”
Town officials say they understand what Smith is trying to do, but building codes must follow the same standards from coast-to-coast. The building inspector says they’re in place for a reason – to ensure the safety of the homeowner.
“The rules are rules, unfortunately,” says Clark’s Harbour Mayor Leigh Stoddart. “I know what she’s trying to do and I applaud her for her effort because she wants to live off the grid.”
Stoddart says he wouldn’t be surprised if the standards change one day to adapt to this new style.
The Smith family would like to see it happen sooner than later.
“Somebody has to stand up and say enough, that’s enough, it’s my right,” says Cheryl Smith. “It’s my house. You didn’t contribute to it financially. You don’t get to tell me what to do.”
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Suzette Belliveau.