Main photo: A carriage house at a property on Aspdin Road. Committee approved two apartments for the structure; one will house a family member and one will be used as a long-term rental, according to the applicants. (Town of Huntsville)
With pressure mounting over the lack of housing in the community, certain regulations may need to be re-examined such as the number of units and locations where additional housing can be created.
At its October meeting, Huntsville’s planning committee heard that due to massing and compatibility issues with provincial policy and both the Huntsville and District official plans, anyone wanting to create rental housing on their property is only allowed to have one ancillary dwelling unit within their house and one in an accessory structure such as a garage.
Committee also heard that Mike and Christine Degazio purchased a home on Aspdin Road approximately five years ago, which contained a carriage house and what they later found out was an illegal apartment.
Christine told committee they were hoping to house her mother in the apartment on the lower floor of the carriage house and create another rental apartment in the space above.
Wayne Simpson, planning consultant for the applicants, told committee that when they realized that planning staff would be recommending that the application to recognize both apartments be denied, the applicants agreed to amend their application to have just one apartment recognized.
“So we made the application seeking to take advantage of the apartment space that is in the lower level of the building and requested a second possibility, that the upper space which is drywalled and insulated and suitable for an apartment but not fitted in that manner could be used as well. Staff and the District planners commented that they thought two units was inappropriate and may be contrary to the Official Plan and my clients accept that reasoning although I… somewhat disagree with it because I don’t think the intention of the province is to cap the number of secondary units,” he said, adding that the municipality may want to investigate the issue in future, particularly with respect to initiatives such as the possibility of creating tiny homes in rural areas.
Councillors Bob Stone and Jason FitzGerald both noted that more rental housing is needed in the community and the space seemed adequate. They moved to approve the two apartments. Huntsville Mayor Karin Terziano expressed concern about going against all regulations while Councillor Jonathan Wiebe said he would agree to approve both apartments provided none of them is used as a short-term rental business.
Councillor Dan Armour wanted to know that the apartments were to building code and that the septic system could sustain an additional four bedrooms as each apartment would have two bedrooms. Staff told him that if the committee approved the application that those issues would be addressed by the building department.
In the end, the majority of the committee voted in favour of recognizing the two apartments with Terziano voting against it.
In a follow-up email from director of planning Kirstin Maxwell, she indicated that the legislation would be examined.
“I believe it is mainly to do with intensification in the urban context, as in urban centres there is not a lot of room to add additional units in accessory buildings. In our rural context it is somewhat different. I would agree that we also don’t want to see rural areas being developed to the same extent as our urban areas with full municipal services. It is definitely something that we and the District will be exploring with the province,” she noted.
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