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Public opinion will help County decide on allowing “small homes”

UPDATE: UPDATE: Councillor Lenny Epstein was passionate in his plea to council to expedite approvals for small housing by enacting a bylaw by spring 2018 to allow homes as small as the building code would allow – approximately 400 square feet.

“Let’s reduce the minimum to what the building code allows. If it’s permitted under the building code, that means it’s healthy and safe building. Let’s do that in the new year. This is a crisis and a thing we can take action on immediately,” he said, noting it is one of the biggest issues he hears from constituents.

His attempt to amend a motion failed. He expressed that the public consultation process is important, but noted bylaw amendments first discussed in 2015 still haven’t come to fruition.

Councillor Bill Roberts supported Epstein and sharing information he had gleaned from conversations with builders, noted a rental unit at $700 for a single bedroom can’t be larger than 600 square feet to be economical to build. A two-bedroom would be at 900 and three-bedroom at 1,200. “It you want to have something economic for someone around $700 a month, it’s going to have to be small or it won’t get built.”

Small and tiny homes have risen in popularity and are featured on HGTV and other television shows.

NOV. 29 – Prince Edward County staff will present councillors recommendations for seeking public opinion on allowing the construction of smaller, affordable homes in the municipality.

Earlier this year councillors Lenny Epstein and Bill Roberts recommended council asked staff for a report on a public consultation process to reduce the minimum dwelling size (floor area) from 75 square metres to the minimum allowable size according to the building code. It will be presented at Thurday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

Historically homes were often smaller than today’s average yet housed larger families. In recent years, their popularity has increased due to potential affordability, aging demographics and fewer persons per household, as well as environmental awareness, reducing carbon footprints and increased interest in second homes.

Council will view a report from the County of Simcoe’s social services to its affordable housing advisory committee that summarizes small home initiatives focused on reducing homelessness and improving affordability.

The Simcoe report classified smaller homes basked on gross floor area:
Micro House/Condo: 300 square feet (28 sq metres) or less;
Tiny House: mostly stand-alone structures, often mobile, between 300 and 600 square feet (28-56 square metres)
Small House: Between 600-1,200 square feet (56-111 square metres), aligned with current affordable housing funding requirements and guidelines for modest-sixed units.

Micro homes, the report states generate interest from those who spend little time at home, such as people who travel or work extended periods of time as a preferred option over motels. Micro homes are often designed to be mobile.

Tiny Homes are listed as a common choice for seasonal occupation (e.g. park model trailer). On the upper size range, tiny homes approximate the gross floor area of some bachelor apartments, or condos.

Small homes are the focus of advocates for reducing homelessness and improving affordability and are more aligned with social housing programs. They offer lower total construction costs and land demands,

Planning matters for review in considering small homes include locations, housing forms and tenure, construction and servicing costs, good neighbourhood fit and municipal fiscal impacts. Also reviewed are options for house-plexes, mixed use development, pocket developments, density and related policies to the official plan.

Staff recommend posting the discussion paper “Small Homes – A Brief Overview of Issues and Options for Planning and Development”  including a questionnaire, along with media announcements, and distribution to people involved in the housing sector – including land development, real estate industry, social housing.

Should initial feedback warrant, more intense consultations would follow.

Click the link above, or here to see the discussion paper.

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  1. Renia Tyminski says:

    Good idea, but the housing situation needs to be dealt with on many fronts. Until Council really grapples with how interrelated all the security issues are — food, housing, finances — they are doing nothing to address a predictable decline in public safety.

  2. Terry Lee Davidson says:

    …an excellent idea !! This will allow a lot of our young people to be able to afford to stay in the county while benefiting other age groups as well..mine included 58+….

  3. Kelly J Roy says:

    Fabulous idea! We love PEC but most homes are out of reach for us. This would give us an opportunity to live in PEC. Living in Northumberland County now allows us to enjoy PEC on day trips. Affordable housing is in need everywhere. Brilliant idea!

  4. Barbara Foster says:

    An excellent idea. A permanent smaller home makes perfect sense. Will allow young families to build starter homes. We need some way of keeping it a home for full time residents who live in the County.

  5. Craig says:

    My understanding is that a rural lot, say a farm can be severed into 3 parcels, but that each of these three lots can not be severed. Would relaxing the bylaws around severances not help to address the lack of land available to build a house, small or otherwise?

  6. Amy says:

    I’m in! I think it’d be a terrific idea.

  7. Dennis Fox says:

    I have no problem with the tiny house idea – provided that they have proper building and occupancy standards -meaning that they comply with the building code and have proper plumbing and heating systems. The last thing we want to go back to are outhouses that create an environmental issue for the neighbours.

  8. June Richardson says:

    Why not. Who needs a large space when most of the people work, and just need small environments to sleep and eat in. Dont make a big deal where there is none.

  9. Don Rancourt says:

    Though my wife and I don’t live in your area, we are in favour of tiny homes wether mobile or not. We think they should be allowed in all counties, with certain restrictions and rules and regulatoins. We would consider renting space from a farmer or rural home owner for a mini home. Other than such an arrangement, we definitely cannot afford a permanent home. I am sure there are many people in the same situation so there is a definite need for this. Thanks for your time.

    Don Rancourt

  10. wevil says:

    i think that anyone that wants a tiny home to live in then let them

  11. My friend lives in a beautiful condo in Toronto 450 sq ft amazing layout
    People should be permitted to build to suit their own budget and needs.

    if council wants to help there is a big empty school on lake on the mountain , which would have a huge septic system .. Small apartments ?

  12. Janet vandusen says:

    Let people have what they can afford it doesn’t make economic sense not too open roads in the county and give people more housing and more reasons to stay in the county also bring in walmart and dollarsma to to keep the local money in the county not Belleville kingston and napanee

  13. Ron says:

    I believe the idea behind the tiny homes is excellent and provide an affordable home. Unfortunately, in the County I think they will just be used as another type of vacation rental therefore driving up their value.

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