Bruce County updates plan for additional residential units

·3 min read

BRUCE COUNTY – The county initiated an Official Plan amendment regarding additional residential units, to permit them in detached buildings.

The change is based on policies outlined in the additional residential units Official Plan amendment, and research completed in partnership with students from the University of Guelph School of Rural Planning and Development.

Jack Van Dorp, manager of land use planning, presented the report, stating the proposed amendment aligns with several guiding principles. It supports increases to the supply and mix of homes, particularly rental units. It recognizes servicing as a key consideration. It ensures opportunities for temporary farm housing while avoiding land use conflicts by providing limited opportunities for an additional residential unit. Opportunities for additional units are also limited in areas designated “rural recreation” with shorelines and natural settings.

The amendment would implement the most recent direction from the province regarding additional housing units. The Official Plan amendment would redefine “secondary suites” as “additional residential units,” permit additional residential units in any designation where residential units are permitted as a primary use, and in most designations allow up to two residential units or garden suites per primary residential unit – one in the building with the dwelling and one in a detached building.

Minimum lot size will be a key factor for lots with individual septic services.

The overall intention is to limit secondary housing units only where it’s justified, for example, due to servicing considerations, and in agricultural areas (where only one, not two additional residential units would be allowed) as well as rural recreational areas and inland lake areas.

Specific comments from various municipalities in the county were included in the report. This included a comment from Huron-Kinloss staff regarding the lakeshore area, where the municipality wants to avoid permitting additional residential units because of size of the lots.

In the rural recreation designation and the related inland lake development designation, staff recommend an additional residential unit be allowed only within a building containing a primary residential dwelling.

Saugeen Shores requested greater flexibility, for example, the opportunity for two units in an ancillary building as opposed to one in each of a primary and detached building.

Brockton staff noted that in new, smaller subdivision lots, it would be more difficult to add a detached dwelling; a semi-detached would be more likely and already in the plans.

Van Dorp said the intent of the amendment is to provide a range of opportunities, so additional residential units are available as an option.

There was a question about garden suites. These are temporary dwelling units located on a property for a specific person for a limited length of time. County staff recommended they continue as an option, and future consideration be given to their relevance. Staff also recommended a minor change to the amendment that would permit them to be converted to permanent additional residential units where they conform to the county’s Official Plan, local Official Plan and zoning bylaw.

County Coun. Luke Charbonneau, mayor of Saugeen Shores, said he “strongly supported” the amendment and hoped to see more attainable, affordable units. He described adding housing units according to the county plan was “low-hanging fruit” in solving the housing crisis.

“It’s great, but it’s not enough. Work on this is just starting,” he said.

Van Dorp noted Grey County had suggested there could be a further opportunity for Bruce County by including duplex dwellings.

“We could look at this,” he said.

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times

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