PERTH COUNTY – Perth County council gave its approval to amendments to the Listowel Ward Official Plan on Sept. 2 regarding road classifications and additional dwelling units.
North Perth initiated a proposed amendment to the Listowel Ward Official Plan (OPA 34) to update policies concerning accessory residential units and to provide a broader range of road classifications for roads within Listowel, specifically reclassifying a portion of Wallace Avenue South as a ‘Collector Road’, downgraded from an ‘Arterial Road.’
The focus of the conversation during the Perth County council discussion was the policy update about “additional dwelling units” that updates the language of the Listowel Ward Official Plan text to remain consistent with the language of the Provincial Policy Statement.
“In 2012, Bill-140, The Strong Communities through Affordable Housing Act authorized the use of second units in Ontario,” said Planner Sean Yilmaz. “More recently in 2019, Bill-108, More Homes, More Choices Act made amendments to the planning act to replace legislation authorizing secondary units with additional residential units or ARUs. The main difference between secondary units and ARUs is the total number of units permitted on a lot. Further to Bill-108, the Planning Act, now allows up to two ARUs on a lot where there is a primary residential unit.”
He said OPA 34 was presented to North Perth council and they and approved the proposed amendment.
Coun. Todd Kasenberg thanked planning staff for their work on OPA 34.
“It’s certainly much appreciated and that modernization issue… of matters both relating to road classifications and additional dwelling units or residential units is quite important,” he said. “I have a question that is perhaps a little bit broader and that is, at this time Bill-108 as I understand it, the More Homes, More Choices Act is enforced in Ontario and we do not allow the total of three dwelling units on a residential lot.
“That is, as I thought I heard you say, Mr. Yilmaz, a function of it not being permitted in the Perth County Official Plan. Can you confirm that is currently the case and that we are non-compliant with Ontario legislation that allows up to three dwelling units on a single residential lot?”
Yilmaz said Kasenberg was correct in stating that the current county Official Plan does not permit up to three units.
“It still only permits just the one additional unit and is referred to as a second dwelling unit,” he said. “Now there is a new Official Plan that is being prepared for the County of Perth and policies within that document would have the updated language and updated policy text and context.”
Manager of Planning Services, Sally McMullen, said everyone recognizes that the current Official Plan is out of date on several topics. “When our new Official Plan is in place we’ll be in alignment with the More Homes More Choices Act and it will allow an additional residential unit in the primary dwelling as well as a third unit potentially in an accessory structure,” she said. “There are various other details and nuances to permitting additional residential units, not just in the Official Plan but in zoning, that we need to work towards in Perth County to not only align our policies with the province’s direction, but to give our community and the homeowners and developers in the community more opportunity to address the housing shortages.”
Coun. Walter McKenzie raised concerns about street parking problems that could be caused by additional dwelling units.
“In the wintertime, we don’t want vehicles parked on the street for snow removal,” he said. “Driveways aren’t that big and in normal cases, in an average family, there will be two or three cars that have to park in that driveway. If we add another unit, where are we going to park all these vehicles?”
McMullen said parking is definitely in consideration. She also said there are other similar issues such as drainage to think of when adding additional units to a lot.
“There is importance to work with builders to help them understand the design features of a building and the features of a lot that do and don’t work with this type of housing development,” she said. “In the development of new subdivisions I know that staff in the various municipalities are talking to builders… and developers who are coming in about the layout of lots, the design potential of the buildings that will end up on the lots and to consider at this stage of subdivision what is an appropriate lot frontage and lot grading and drainage plan that can work better for those kinds of development with additional units.”
Kasenberg said she struck an interesting chord and he just wanted to pick up on this briefly to make sure he understood what happens after this should council elect to endorse this resolution.
“In the case of the Listowel Ward Official Plan – should we proceed at least with the housing-related provisions, the additional dwelling related provisions, will there be some zoning bylaw amendment work that’s needed to enable further with regard to that provision,” he said. “That’s my first sort of question. The second is if I were to convert a space in my home into an apartment as an additional dwelling unit at this point, would that be permitted? Of course, since I’m in Atwood it probably is at this point. Isn’t it the only obligation I have in approaching the government at this point is that I would be talking to the Chief Building Official? I don’t need planning involvement in the renovation of my primary dwelling. Am I right?”
“You are correct,” said McMullen. “A building permit would be where you would end up. You would be looking at the application for a building permit and the Chief Building Official would work with the planner to make sure that the zone provisions were met with the changes in the development. Our zoning bylaws probably do need some tweaking. To target provisions that will help with the development and the good development of additional residential units and as I said we do have some housekeeping amendments already underway for you and we’ve been sort of writing them from the perspective of the new Official Plan.”
Yilmaz said the current zoning bylaw does permit second dwelling units and there are provisions that guide the development of it so there is a parking requirement, certain size requirements – it can only be a maximum size of 1,300-square feet, approximately.
“So at this point, the zoning bylaw concerning second dwelling units actually is up to date with the existing current County of Perth Official Plan policy and so the update to the Listowel Ward Official Plan is something that should have happened a while ago,” he said. “So this specific Official Plan Amendment will not trigger the need for a zoning bylaw amendment to ensure that this still works.”
Council voted in favour of passing OPA 34.
Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner