A Picton councillor is seeking changes to the County’s comprehensive zoning bylaw to allow for more affordable homes.
At Thursday’s committee of the whole meeting, Lenny Epstein put forth a motion that would see a reduction in the minimum dwelling size (floor area) from 75 square metres to the minimum allowable size as per the Ontario Building Code. A one bedroom home would be 400 to 500 square feet.
Epstein said he has heard from a lot of people that the current size is preventing them from building the home they want.
“The hope is to help us move forward with a corporate strategic plan to allow people to have a diversity of affordable housing options,” Epstein explained. “Food and housing adds up and the cost of building and maintaining larger homes is a barrier for people that don’t need that kind of floor space for their own needs. This will allow some flexibility.”
Councillor Bill Roberts applauded the motion.
“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” he said pointing to other areas like Ottawa and Peterborough that have embraced the idea of smaller affordable homes. “It is trending and attractive to people looking for affordable innovative housing options.”
Speaking to the recent 2016 census data showing a 2.1% drop in the County’s population, Councillor Jamie Forrester said the census report shows more residents are leaving the County.
“More people are building and buying homes but not living here,” he said. “It’s a great idea for in-town and elderly people looking for a smaller home but we have to be very careful how we roll this out.”
He and Councillor Janice Maynard said they would like to see a stipulation that this can only be put into effect for people looking to reside in the home year round and not for any form of tourism.
Currently there is a housing study in the works and a Request for Proposal has gone out to create affordable homes at the former Wellington arena, and the Emmanuel Baptist Church group is working on a project for a complex for seniors.
The motion calls for a staff report outlining a public consultation process on revising the bylaw.