When Council decided that the best solution to the “are they or are they not duplexes” was not to clean up their definitions but instead to put a restriction on secondary suites so they could not be added to a new home or homes less than 3yrs old, many saw this as a knee-jerk reaction to a problem that Council created and failed to fix and that cost taxpayers $140,000.
Furthermore, the confusion continued as it was unclear whether decisions could be challenged at the Ontario Municipal Board by way of appeal. Council passed the restrictions and sent them to the County of Simcoe for approval as OPA #9 (Official Plan Amendment #9). To their credit, Council wisely had their lawyer look into this although they likely did not expect the response that is coming back to them.
This zoning or definition fiasco saw neighbours on Aberdeen upset and the municipal tax purse likely robbed of $140,000 in development charges. Without the will to go back after the developer for the lost income, likely due to the ambiguity around the the Town’s own definitions of Duplex and Secondary Suites, they resigned themselves (and the rest of us) to the losses and figured they’d outsmarted any future attempts to build new homes that blurred the lines between duplexes and secondary suites without having to clean up something as simple as definitions.
Their legal council is now reporting otherwise. In a letter that will be officially presented to Council on Monday’s meeting, the Town’s solicitor states that “the Province will likely actively intervene in ensuring that OPA No. 9 is not approved with policies that allow for its implementation based upon the age of the dwelling.”
In addition the Ministry of Housing’s own planner Steven Barber says:
“This proposed policy indicates that second units will be created in accordance with the Zoning By-law, which may include restrictions concerning the location and age of the primary dwelling and the size and servicing requirements of the secondary unit. Zoning By-laws 2016-28 and 2016-29 provide that a primary dwelling must be a minimum of 3 years of age in order for a second unit to be permitted.
This requirement is, in the view of Ministry staff restrictive and not consistent with the intent of the Planning Act which envisions second suites in new builds as well as retrofit units. It is worth noting that it is, in many instances, easier to accommodate a second suite in a new build.
The proposed OP policy would more appropriately state that a second unit “shall be permitted” in accordance with zoning provisions dealing with: a) maximum number of second units per dwelling; b) minimum second unit size; c) parking provisions; d) exterior; and e) landscaping requirements. We recommend that the reference to limitations on the age of the primary dwelling be removed from the OP and the Zoning By-law.”
This may be bad news for those who were happy to not see any secondary suites and “rentals” in premium neighbourhoods, and means that Council likely needs to deal with their definitions of Duplexes and Secondary Suites clearly and concisely to avoid un-intended development. It seems that the Province’s intent is to see secondary suites allowed by anyone at anytime and without onerous restrictions. Council needs to go back to the drawing board and people who don’t want to see “renters” in their neighbourhoods will need to accept that reality and move on. No neighbourhood will be exempt in Ontario. And in this author’s opinion, that’s the way it should be.
Read the whole chain of letters below.
Link to documents: http://www.ourmidland.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/aird-belis.pdf