FOR THE GAZETTE
Reduced minimum dwelling sizes in essence of more affordable housing options in the community could take place before year’s end.
Coun. Kate MacNaughton made the request, amending the original motion slightly, that council direct municipal staff to do the consultation and evaluation necessary to permit a reduced minimum dwelling size for primary dwellings within the comprehensive zoning bylaw to bring it in line with the Ontario Building Code and that this be completed and returned to council before the end of 2021.
“I consider this to be somewhat in the realm of housekeeping. Staff did do the work on this because of a council motion in 2017, but it never moved forward due to, I believe, a lack of response to the public consultation process,” MacNaughton explained. “If we reduce the minimum dwelling size for primary dwellings, it would provide options for those who are looking to build in Prince Edward County. It would provide options that have some more affordable and more environmentally-responsible opportunities.”
MacNaughton added she believes this is something staff are already considering, and expects to see a review of the comprehensive zoning bylaw in the near future.
“This would perhaps allow people who have plans right now or who have hopes right now to be able to undertake efforts to move in this direction sooner,” she said. “We would be able to hopefully get this in place and moving for 2022, whereas we won’t be seeing the bylaws review process completed until 2023.”
She noted she originally wanted to bring the discussion forward last year on two occasions when paired with other items like lot size, lot coverage and setbacks but felt those are complicated items and should be left to the zoning bylaw review.
“Particularly out of respect for staff workloads and the complications that would surround the public consultation in those regards,” she added. “This motion is a simple one.”
Coun. Bill Roberts seconded MacNaughton’s resolution, applauding her for heading the discussion and agreed that it is “overdue.”
“My understanding is that the current policy is not very consistent,” he said. “For example, I think the minimum size for a seniors residence is less than what would be required of a bachelor but both, in effect, are the same thing, so there are some inconsistencies to be dealt with.”
Roberts also added looking at a tiny home community as a potential development the minimum dwelling size needs to be smaller than the current policy allows for.
He also asked moving forward on the topic staff consult with and get input from the Prince Edward County Affordable Housing Corporation.
Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Marcia Wallace said council has already asked staff to come back with a report on defining affordability in the context of Prince Edward County’s housing market, that will include options within the land use planning space to address options.
“I see this as part of that exercise which is to come forward in early fall,” she explained. “We are quite aware that there are inconsistencies and issues with the bylaw and that is why we want the comprehensive bylaw.”
Wallace said once the County’s Official Plan is approved by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, staff would commence with the comprehensive bylaw.
Planning Manager Michael Michaud added that in some cases altering one thing could cause something else to change.
“In reducing the minimum size or actually, perhaps getting rid of minimum sizes for homes within our zoning bylaw, we may want to have a look at what a minimum size is permitted for secondary units,” he said.
In other words, he explained, if it’s decided to have a 1,000 sq. ft. home and someone wants to do a secondary unit they will need to determine how to split the sizing up – two 500 sq. ft. dwellings; 750 and 250 sq. ft.; or to set the minimum house standard at 2,200 sq. ft. before a secondary unit is permitted.
“That to me becomes the planning question that needs to be asked and an answer sought as we move forward with reducing the levels for our main dwellings and what sizes they should be,” Michaud said.
The MacNaughton-Roberts motion to receive the resolution was carried.