New Kitchener bylaw allows for addition of tiny houses and granny flats

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On Oct. 28 the Kitchener city councillors ruled to approve a new residential bylaw that will allow up to three residential units on a property. The bylaw will permit adding units like tiny houses, granny flats and above-garage apartments to a property.

“We have been working on updating our zoning bylaw for over five years, so this has been a long time coming,” said Sarah Marsh, Ward 10 Kitchener City Councillor. 

“We’ve heard from residents in various stages of the process and a lot of what we heard was people want more housing options,” she said

“In the last year, the provincial government has brought forward their legislation called ‘more homes, more choices,’ and so they also are requiring that any new bylaw in a municipality will need to allow for more.”

This bylaw change is following the recent provincial changes to the Planning Act which allow property owners the option of having up to three approved residential units on their property.

The Kitchener-specific bylaw differs from the provincial law by permitting these units to be their own separate buildings on the property.

In the last year, the provincial government has brought forward their legislation called ‘more homes, more choices,’ and so they also are requiring that any new bylaw in a municipality will need to allow for more.

– Sarah Marsh, Ward 10 Kitchener City Councillor

“The city along with a lot of other communities have been trying to find additional ways to provide housing options and what we hope are more affordable housing options,” said Kevin Curtis, University of Waterloo planning professor.

“I think this is another example of initiative that there is broad merit to but we’ll have to monitor the situation to see what the nature of the uptake is and what kind of issues, if they arise over the course of the first couple of years, what they are and if any of the matter in the bylaw needs to be tweaked,” Curtis said. “Time will tell.”

This bylaw change is a step in the right direction when dealing with the affordable housing problem that has been building in many Ontario cities.

“The city has been very positive and very innovative in this regard. I can’t even think of another city offhand that has gone this fast this quickly on this point, but everyone is always looking to try to find ways to deal with this ever-changing housing market and the needs and demands and supply issues,” Curtis said.

The city also recognizes that this change is not an immediate solution in and of itself, but rather a stepping stone towards a larger solution.

“It will not be the be-all-end-all and it won’t be immediate so no, we’re not able to hang our hat on this change to alleviate the affordable housing needs, this is just one piece,” Marsh said.

“I think we need a broad range of tools to really make a dent in the affordable housing problem.”

The city of Kitchener is currently working towards developing an affordable housing strategy to address the needs of the growing city.

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