Visit the new My Self Reliance property with Shawn and Joe Robinet as we build the first permanent super shelter to house guests and students.
Purchase land just about anywhere in Southern and Central Ontario, or anywhere else in Canada or the United States, for the purpose of sustainable, off-grid living, and you will soon find out there are rules and regulations in place to stop you from doing what YOU want to do. It sounds hard to believe, but just because you own your own land does not mean you have the right to do whatever you wish on it, even if it has no impact on your neighbors or the environment.
In our hunt for suitable land to create a power-free, off-grid recreation lifestyle, my wife and I were shocked to discover that not only could we not build a tiny home to occupy, nor a temporary Bunkie prior to building a permanent residence, we were not even permitted to camp on OUR land for any length of time. What?!
It’s true. We could spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on a piece of vacant land in Ontario and we could not occupy that land, even temporarily, without a permit in place to build a permanent home. And, not just any home, but a house with a minimum area of 1,000 square feet – not exactly a “tiny” home. With a permit in place, it’s legal to place a trailer on the property for up to three years (only in some municipalities mind you), but at the end of that period, the trailer must be removed from the property if you have not built a house.
Also shockingly, in many jurisdictions, it’s actually illegal to NOT be connected to the local utility grid. So, relying on renewable energy (or even a generator) without tying into the territorial electricity grid is strictly forbidden.
What we wanted
Freedom from government oversight at a local level.
Freedom to build an off-grid homestead
Freedom to camp or otherwise occupy our property in a shelter that we deem appropriate for our current use.
Freedom from high development fees and annual property taxes.
What to do?
One possible solution, although not necessarily a 100% legal one, is to own and occupy land in an unorganized township. In Ontario, Canada, unorganized territories are found only above Muskoka in the center of the province, from Parry Sound District north. In these Districts, there are areas with no county or regional levels of government and therefore no local oversight.