City calls for more secondary suites in Peterborough homes

The city is encouraging more people to build secondary suites in their homes and on their properties to help increase the city’s housing supply.

Secondary suites are self-contained residential units with all the amenities that a regular home would have, such as a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living room. They can take the form of granny suites, basement apartments, and even tiny homes.

Peterborough’s vacancy rate fell to 1% last year as post-secondary students returned to in-person classes after several semesters of mostly virtual learning during the pandemic.

“It’s no secret that we have a housing shortage, and a lot of people are struggling to get into the market or stay in their homes,” Otonabee Ward Coun said. Lesley Parnell.

“Having a secondary suite is a way to create housing for people who need it, and it creates additional income to allow homeowners, especially seniors, to afford to stay in their homes. home.

The average home price in Peterborough recently passed the $800,000 mark, making it harder for people to save for down payments on buying a home and mortgage payments.

“Even with my own kids, I think maybe two of them are going to have to work together to be able to afford to get into a house, and they have good jobs,” Parnell said.

“It’s also a challenge even if you have a good job, if it’s not classified as full time you can’t get a mortgage even if you have a good down payment.”

To encourage secondary suites, the city council removed rezoning requirements for the construction of secondary suites, although there are still some restrictions.

Many landowners in the city can take advantage of this opportunity, unless they live in one of two places, either in a flood plain or in an area still zoned as part of a previous township that the city ​​annexed, according to Parnell.

To provide more options for accessory suites and to help improve the city’s vacancy rate, the city has proposed in its new official plan, which is still awaiting provincial government approval, to allow owners build up to two accessory suites, one in their home and another in an auxiliary building on their property.

Homeowners considering building an accessory suite should always apply for a building permit and have building inspectors monitor progress.

Secondary suites built in ancillary buildings must be smaller than the property’s main house, said Brad Appleby, supervisor of development planning with the city’s Department of Infrastructure and Planning Services.

“A secondary suite must have a minimum floor area of ​​28 square meters and the suite must be smaller in area than the primary accommodation,” Appleby said.

City staff have issued 21 secondary housing permits so far this year, with 19 more pending approval.

That’s an improvement from the same time last year in secondary suite applications, he said.

Secondary suites existed in the city long before the city passed its bylaw allowing them, said Paul Armstrong, author of the Housing is Fundamental report.

“As we look at CMHC’s reports on rental housing, we have to remember that these secondary units are already part of the mix, even though CMHC doesn’t capture information about them,” Armstrong said.

“While CMHC reports a 1% vacancy rate, which includes all emergency ancillary suites, without these suites the vacancy rate would be much worse.”

But just because people can put a secondary suite in their home doesn’t mean they’re ready to do so, Parnell said.

“We’ve lost quite a few opportunities to Airbnb, but we hear that in most municipalities as well,” she said.

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