The Town of Midland passed a by-law in April 2010, which allows for Secondary Suites in single-detached residential dwellings.
In our local lobby group’s (midlandcommunity.ca) latest e-mail blast to their party faithful, they lament:
“All of this played to a standing room only crowd in chambers, as the room was filled with residents concerned with Midland’s misguided secondary suite bylaw. The public protest was supported by considerable correspondence arguing against another “made in Midland” litigious disaster, and Council acknowledged receiving these letters. Why can’t we learn from recent history? This community will no longer stand for these types of self destructive policies. The residents who showed up in force at the meeting remain concerned that some at Town Hall still hope to reverse recent progress on this file.”
This got us thinking about why a lobby group who’s primary focus is on reducing taxes should line up so passionately against a federal and provincial initiative that Midland has little option other than to adopt? We thought we would look into the issue to see what all the fuss is about. What litigious risk are we in and what is self-destructive about this bylaw and the policies surrounding it?
What Is A Secondary Suite
A secondary suite is a private, self-contained unit within an existing dwelling. Secondary suites are also called second units, accessory apartments, granny flats, in-law suites and basement apartments (since many are found in basements). A secondary suite has its own bathroom, kitchen, living and sleeping areas but can share a number of features with the rest of the house. Shared facilities may include a yard, parking area, laundry and storage space, and sometimes a hallway.
The secondary suite is usually created in a dwelling originally designed to accommodate a single family. Builders in some markets construct houses with apartments included at the outset or houses that can be easily converted. The video above speaks to FlexHousing concepts when building a home or renovating to accommodate changing needs of the resident or the addition of other living spaces.
The Town is requiring that all existing and new Secondary Suites to be registered under the Registry By-law 2010-32.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Creation of a garden suite for seniors and/or persons with a disability or creation of an affordable rental unit in an existing single family dwelling:
- Must comply with local municipal building approval and Ontario Building Code requirements
- Rents must remain affordable* for a period of 15 years *based on Average Market Rent as determined by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation describes the initiative as:
Secondary suites are an important supply of rental housing in many cities, towns and rural communities across Canada. For example, in 2014, it was estimated that there were about 26,600 secondary units in Vancouver, forming about a fifth of the rental stock. About a fifth of the rental stock in Edmonton is in secondary suites and accessory dwellings, as well. Rents in secondary suites are often lower than those for apartments in conventional rental buildings, and the suites can be developed with no or minimal government assistance. Secondary suites enable low- and moderate-income households to live in ground-related housing in a residential setting.
Not only are secondary suites a source of affordable rental housing, they can also provide the needed extra income to first-time homebuyers for whom that additional income makes housing affordable in high-cost areas. For older households who no longer need a large house, the addition of a suite can generate needed income and security, as well as allow them to continue to live in their neighbourhoods and age in place.
There seems to be much commotion surrounding Midland’s secondary suite bylaw as of late with many people who are against the changes showing support by attending council meetings where the topic is on the agenda.
Where do you stand on this issue and why? Weigh in below in the comments. What’s all the fuss about?