What's happening with Second Dwelling Unit(s) in Pelham

What is a Dwelling Unit?

A dwelling unit is a living space designed and intended for use by one or more people who maintain a common household. As defined by the Town’s Zoning By-law (1987) a “Dwelling Unit” means:

  • a suite of habitable rooms which:
    • is located in a building;
    • is used or intended to be used in common by one or more persons as a single, independent and separate housekeeping establishment;
    • contains food preparation and sanitary facilities provided for the exclusive common use of the occupants thereof; and
    • has a private entrance directly from outside the building or from a common hallway or stairway inside the building.

What is a Secondary Dwelling Unit?

A Secondary Dwelling Unit (SDU) is a self-contained residential unit located within a principal dwelling unit or an accessory building and permitted in detached, semi-detached and townhouse dwellings. The unit may be in any part of the house, including the basement.

Secondary Dwelling Units are a requirement within the Town of Pelham, and here is why?

The Provincial government made changes to the Planning Act through Bill 108/Regulation 299 of the Province of Ontario (More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019) on June 6, 2019. The More Homes, More Choice Act requires that the Town permit additional dwelling units on a property containing a single-detached, semi-detached, or street townhouse residential dwelling and permitting these units in an accessory building.

What is Bill 108?

The intention of the More Homes, More Choice Act is to address the housing crisis in Ontario by minimizing regulations related to residential development through changes to various Acts dealing with the planning process, including reducing fees related to development by reducing the number of services that may be subject to development charges, shortening the timelines for the approval of many planning applications and providing as of right permissions to allow second dwelling units. The Provincial government identifies affordable housing as a “fundamental need," and second dwelling units were identified as one of the least expensive ways to increase affordable housing supply while encouraging intensification and maintaining neighbourhood character.

Can I Establish a Secondary Dwelling Unit?

Currently, the Town of Pelham Official Plan and Zoning By-law does not permit second dwelling units as a right and amendments are required for these permissions. We have begun working on policies to allow people to explore putting an SDU on their property. Things to consider include servicing requirements, parking requirements, building and fire code requirements and location, among others. We want to hear from you on this matter on what types of standards or regulations you'd like to see implemented by Council. A public meeting on the proposed Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments is scheduled for February 8, 2021, and an online survey will also be developed to obtain public input on this subject.

For more information on adding an SDU to your home, please refer to the following webpage: https://files.ontario.ca/mmah-adding-a-second-unit-in-an-existing-house-en.pdf

SDUs can come in many different shapes or sizes. There are many requirements beyond the zoning of a property when considering how to establish a legal SDU. The Province of Ontario has put together some basic information for property owners who are considering an SDU. This information can be accessed by clicking the image above to open the 'Adding a Second Unit in an Existing House' Guide, by checking out their 'Build or Buy a Tiny Home' guide, by visiting the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing website, or by searching for more information on the 'More Homes, More Choice Act' Housing Supply Action Plan.

What are the benefits to a Secondary Dwelling Unit?

Secondary Dwelling Units come in many shapes and sizes and are commonly referred to as basement apartments, granny flats, coach homes, in-law suites, garage apartments, etc. They can have many benefits, including increasing rental units available to the community, providing rental income opportunities, and providing housing for family or friends who may need extra care.

Municipalities are required to provide a diverse range and mix of housing types and ownership styles. This is where SDUs can make a difference and create a balance within the housing market in the Town of Pelham.

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