An example of an Earthship style home in New Mexico, completed in 2015. Photo by John WenzJennifer Argue, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

RM of McKillop council has turned down a request to approve in principle the development of a style of home called an “earthship.”

The Council initially received a request from the prospective builder asking for approval in September. The purchase of a potential lot in MacPheat Park was contingent on approval.

“…you guys considered it, you said, oh, we won’t be living next to it…”

A report from the RMs Development Officer included several articles on the pros and cons of earthships, a long article on why it isn’t good in a Canadian climate, a dated article on one that was built in 2014 in southern Alberta, photos of the potential building, photos of an Earthship currently on the market, and from Wikipedia- the history of “Earthships”, “Earthships are designed to behave as passive solar earth shelters made of both natural and upcycled materials such as earth-packed tires… and are designed to withstand the extreme temperatures of a desert, managing to stay close to 70°F (21°C) regardless of outside weather conditions.”

The report also says, “With respect to building a dwelling, the RM of McKillop Zoning Bylaw determines the size & location requirements of a dwelling but does not govern Architectural Controls.”

While the report notes the building must be up to code, it recommends that the application be treated as a discretionary use. “It is my recommendation that further information be provided by the applicant in support of such a structure, including input by a designer and engineer, along with a site- specific GEO-Tech Report. As I found no reports indicating that this type of build was conducted in Saskatchewan, I would recommend that this be treated as a Discretionary Use and advertised as required.”

After receiving the report, the Council sent it to Macpheat Park for their input, which was brought back to the council table at the October 31st regular council meeting.

A/CAO Camille Box said the Earthship structure is not permitted in their zoning bylaw and thought it should be left to the Council’s discretion. “At the meeting that you guys considered it, you said, oh, we won’t be living next to it, so we sent it to the [organized hamlet]. I talked to the Chair, and he said this was the fastest response we’ve ever had for as many people. And it was an overwhelming resounding no.”

Reeve Bob Schmidt said he felt bad for the developer but that they would have to change the design to make it more pleasing to the rest of the people and that the RM couldn’t interfere.

Council passed a motion that said after receiving feedback from ratepayers at MacPheat Park, they couldn’t approve “something like that.”

By Jennifer Argue, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Nov 22, 2023 at 19:34

This item reprinted with permission from   Last Mountain Times   Nokomis, Saskatchewan

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