City shuts down Grow Calgary’s Earthship building after inspection

The building was deemed unsafe by City of Calgary officials

Inspectors and officials were showed up at Grow Calgary's site on the west side of Calgary and fenced off a building. (COURTESY PAUL HUGHES)

Inspectors have again shut down Grow Calgary’s Earthship building.

The greenhouse – built out of earth and discarded material such as used tires – caused some controversy when it was first under construction because of concerns about building codes.

Grow Calgary founder Paul Hughes said officials from the city and province showed up on Wednesday in what he described as an ambush.

“They said they’re going to put a fence around the Earthship again,” he said.

However an official with the city said Grow Calgary was served notice one month ago on problems with the Earthship.

The spokesperson said the building was deemed unsafe.

An official with the province explained that the site was being inspected by the city because of an event scheduled to happen this weekend. Grow Calgary has been working with local teams to build microhomes – living spaces under 200 square feet in size.

“The province is supportive of Grow Calgary’s Micro Home competition,” said the spokesperson in an emailed statement.

“We want to make sure this event on public land happens safely. Provincial staff are assisting City of Calgary inspectors in ensuring basic safety standards are met.”

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Hughes said he has applied for permits to host that event. He also refused to pay a $116 fee associated with those permits out of principal.

He said the microhome event, as well as Grow Calgary’s mandate, is to help the homeless and those living in poverty.

Hughes said as of Wednesday, the city was still asking for the permit money.

“This is all petty. This is epic pettiness,” said Hughes.

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