It is illegal for Cheryl Smith to live in her own home because it doesn’t have electricity.
Officials in Clark’s Harbour, Nova Scotia, are refusing to give Smith a certificate of occupancy to live in her new house because it has no power. She since has stopped working on the home.
“Why am I being forced to rely on electricity or fossil fuels or whatever if I don’t want to?” Smith asked CTV.
Smith cannot get a certificate of occupancy because national building codes in Canada require new homes to have wiring for smoke detectors and ventilation systems.
The ‘Rules Are the Rules’
Smith’s 14-by-20-square-foot dream “tiny home” has been sitting empty with signs that say “Freedom of Rights Denied” and “Work Stopped” tacked to the door for a year.
She said it’s odd that the Canadian government espouses environmentalism views but doesn’t allow citizens to live off-grid.
“I just don’t want to leave a big footprint on the earth,” she told CTV. “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?”
Local officials cannot make an exception for Smith because the building code is a federal law.
“The rules are the rules, unfortunately, but I know what she’s trying to do and I applaud her effort,” Clark’s Harbour Mayor Leigh Stoddart said, “because she wants to live off the grid, to go back to nature.”
Stoddart said he thinks the building codes eventually will be amended to allow people like Smith to live without electricity. Until then, Smith may not be able to live in her home.
Her father, Don Smith, is willing to wire it for her, but she has refused his offer.
“She wants to live the way her grandparents did back then,” Don Smith said. “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 somebody.”
Cheryl Smith wants to see the law changed.
“Somebody has to stand up and say that’s enough, that’s enough, it’s my house. You didn’t contribute to it financially and you do not get to tell me what to do,” Smith said.
In the United States, Too
Smith is not the only person who has one run afoul of building codes for living off the grid. A number of people in the United States have been forced out of their homes by local authorities for choosing an off-the-grid life.
Cape Coral, Florida, resident Robin Speronis was evicted from her home because she chose to live without city water or electricity, as Off The Grid News reported. (Listen to Off The Grid Radio’s interview with Speronis here.)
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