Secondary Suites Discussion

At its March 19th meeting, the Town of Collingwood Development and Operations Services Standing Committee will review Staff Report P2018-08 and consider a recommendation from Town staff that Council enacts and passes an amending Zoning By-law to permit additional opportunities for secondary suites.

The Staff Report defines Secondary Suites as self-contained residential units with private kitchen and bathroom facilities within dwellings or within structures that are accessory to dwellings.

Typically secondary suites take the form of:

• accessory apartments within a primary dwelling unit (which may be a single, semi or townhouse dwelling unit);
• garden suites (a dwelling unit in a detached building accessory to a primary dwelling unit); and,
• coach houses (a dwelling unit above or attached to a detached garage accessory to a primary dwelling unit).

Provincial Direction and Secondary Suites

Provincial planning policies over the past decade, such as those contained in the Planning Act, Provincial Policy Statement and Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, have focused on supporting the development of complete, compact and efficient communities that among other things provide an appropriate range and mix of housing types and densities to meet the requirements of all current and future residents. Secondary suites have been viewed as one way of achieving this goal, helping to increase the supply and range of affordable rental accommodation. Additional benefits, as outlined by the Province include:

• Allow homeowners to earn additional income to help meet the cost of homeownership;
• Support changing demographics by providing more housing options for extended families or elderly parents, or for a live-in caregiver;
• Help create mixed-income communities, which support local businesses and local labour markets;
• Make more efficient use of existing infrastructure, including public transit where it exists or is planned;
• Make more efficient use of the existing housing stock;
• Create jobs in the construction/renovation industry; and,
• Assist municipalities in meeting their goals regarding affordable housing, intensification and density targets, and climate change mitigation and greenhouse gas emissions reduction.
Specific direction to support the creation of secondary suites was provided with The Strong Communities through Affordable Housing Act of 2011 which made Planning Act changes requiring Municipal Official Plans and Zoning By-laws to authorize secondary suites:
• in detached, semi-detached and row houses (if an ancillary building or structure does not contain a second unit); and,
• in a building or structure ancillary to these housing types (provided that the primary dwelling does not contain a second unit).

To help ensure that requirements for secondary suites were realized, the Province also enacted changes to the Planning Act that prevent Council decisions in this regard from being appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Collingwood’s Response to Date

In accordance with Provincial direction, and as reflected in the amended County Official Plan, Collingwood revised its Official Plan policies to permit the range of opportunities for secondary suites identified by the Province (Official Plan Amendment #33 – Residential Policy Review).

The Town’s Comprehensive Zoning By-law 2010-040, which preceded these Official Plan changes, contains provisions which permit accessory apartments in single detached dwellings subject to a number of performance standards. Since 2010 the Town has issued 78 accessory apartment building permits under these provisions, averaging about 13 per year over the last five years.

Simcoe County Council Helps Homeowners Create Secondary Suites

Simcoe County Council continues to invest in strategies to develop new social housing units and has recommitted funds to support homeowners in creating secondary or garden suites

As part of its 2018 Budget, the County is providing $635,000 in additional funding to grow and expand this program. These County funds will complement $300,000 already dedicated through federal and provincial funds for creation of secondary and/or garden suites this year, bringing the total available funding close to $1 million for 2018.

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