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Collingwood studies expanding second suites

By JT McVeigh, The Enterprise-Bulletin

COLLINGWOOD – For some people, it’s a great idea; for others, not so much.

That was the impression Collingwood council was left with after town planner Mark Bryan introduced proposed changes to the zoning bylaw as it relates to second suites.

Seen by many as one of the solutions of the dire shortage of affordable rentals in town, opponents say it will crowd the roads with parked cars and open the doors to unscrupulous landlords.

According to a federal government website, all provinces in Canada encourage the development of secondary suites as a means to provide options for affordable housing. Only Ontario has enacted specific provincial legislation requiring municipalities to develop policies in their official plans and zoning provisions to provide for secondary suites.

Changes made to the Ontario Planning Act in 2011 make it obligatory for municipalities to allow for secondary suites within single-detached, semi-detached and townhouse dwellings, as well as in ancillary structures, such as detached garages.

“The real push for this comes from provincial policies such as contained in the Planning Policy Statement, the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, and a focus on compact communities,” Bryan told council. “The town and the county’s official plans have been revised to reflect changes, but the town’s zoning bylaw is not fully reflected. Currently, Collingwood only permits accessory apartments in single-family dwellings.”

The proposals presented to council will expand the types of dwellings eligible to develop second suites.

“Specific direction was given in the Strong Communities through Affordable Housing Act 2011, which made changes to the Planning Act, which required municipalities to allow secondary suites in single-detached, semi-detached and townhouses,” said Bryan.

Bryan suggested the benefits from the expectation for additional affordable housing units, an additional revenue stream for the dwelling owner, more flexible housing solutions for dwindling or aging family members would have a positive outcome.

A number of cities have already developed their own amendments, including Barrie, which expanded its requirements in 2016.

Council was told according to the most recent census, occupancy in Collingwood homes has dropped from 2.3 persons to 2.2.

Allowing this amendment comes with challenges and conditions.

This has to be managed with a number of zoning concerns in mind, including size and configuration of lots, the design of the units, adequate parking and driveways.

“Under the newer polices, the opportunity has increased (for this zoning amendment) and we are looking at all residential areas in the town,” said Bryan. “We are looking at the older part of town, which we have identified with those policy changes as the Collingwood intensification area, The bylaw would allow attached dwellings to garages, which we are calling coach houses, garden suites or granny flats.”

One resident who attended the public meeting wasn’t happy with the proposed changes.

“Now we are looking at apartments over garages, conversion of garages into flats, converting garden sheds into granny flats, pre-built modular units in backyards and, for all we know, conversion of a kiddie’s tree houses into revenue-generating properties,” one person said to council.

Council heard the benefits and concerns and will wait until the final amendment has been created before voting.

The public is still encouraged to offer comments or concerns to the planning department through the clerk’s office.


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