About Otter Housing Association 

In rural Newfoundland and Labrador, the Otter Housing Association (OHA) is taking significant strides to address homelessness through an innovative housing project in Port Rexton. The initiative, which plans to construct between 12 units, is designed to offer both affordable and rent-geared-to-income options. Notably, the project is committed to sustainability and energy efficiency, aiming to set a benchmark for Net Zero Energy developments in rural areas. The OHA project will be amongst the first bringing the innovative concepts of communal Sustainable Affordable Housing options and Zero Carbon Building standards to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. This project aims to be the first certified Zero Carbon Building Design project in the province — a significant step in the right direction, towards a more sustainable construction culture. 

Planning for sustainability

Funded by the Sustainable Affordable Housing (SAH) planning grant, OHA has commenced an extensive planning phase to incorporate advanced low-carbon building technologies. This includes hiring an energy efficiency consultant and an architect with expertise in sustainable practices to oversee the project design. The association is exploring modular construction to streamline the building process while maintaining high energy efficiency standards, and is also investigating the use of solar photovoltaic systems to ensure the buildings can generate as much energy as they consume. 

Innovative features for replicability  

The project is characterized by several innovative features that promise wide replicability. It focuses on achieving Net Zero Energy status by prioritizing energy generation and conservation, and utilizes prefabricated modules to minimize construction waste and duration, providing a scalable model for similar rural housing initiatives. 

Securing future funding

Following the initial planning, OHA plans to seek further study grants from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) to refine their construction methods based on early findings. Insights from this phase will guide future applications for capital project funding through FCM and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). 

Social and environmental impacts

The social and environmental impacts of this project are significant. The SAH planning grant funded research on co-housing in the United Kingdom, a region where co-housing developments have gained significant popularity. This research facilitated connections between OHA and nine co-housing communities, which notably included several Passivhaus certified developments. By providing stable, community-centred affordable housing, it directly addresses local homelessness, while its emphasis on Net Zero Energy and low-carbon technologies helps reduce the community's environmental footprint.  

A model for rural housing solutions

The Otter Housing Association's initiative in Port Rexton is a prime example of how rural areas can tackle significant social challenges like homelessness through innovative and sustainable housing solutions. Supported by the REC program and SAH funding, this project not only delivers immediate benefits to those in need but also serves as a sustainable model for future developments in similar settings. As OHA progresses, its approach continues to inspire broader shifts toward sustainable and inclusive community planning. 

To learn more about OHA and their project’s progress, visit them at otterhousing.ca

Want to explore all GMF-funded projects? Check out the Projects Database for a complete overview of funded projects and get inspired by municipalities of all sizes, across Canada. 

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