Monday, February 1, 2010

Dog with a bone

There is still meat on this bone to be picked so I am continuing with the comments from Friday (Suites not sweet.) My first point is property owner rights. Currently if you want a zoning change you submit your request, adjacent property owners that may be affected by the request are notified, there is a hearing and all involved are invited to attend and voice their support or express their concerns. If council unilaterally enlarges on the zoning to to include garage/garden suites in traditional residential zoning, they will effectively eliminate a property owners right to speak to the issue that may directly impact on their use and enjoyment of their property. For those of you who want this in your neighbourhood, go speak in favour of it for your 'hood rather than impose it on everyone else.

Secondly, the issue of illegal suites should be of concern to all neighbourhoods and renters. Illegal suites do not meet code and can have safety issues. By example, if proper egress is not in place and there is a fire the tenant may be trapped and a risk for serious injury or death. I have seen suites in this city that I wouldn't let my dog stay in, yet they continue exist without intervention by the city primarily because of the shortage if rental properties. What makes you think illegal garage/garden suites will not be handled in the same fashion?
If density is the goal then allow properties that are already zoned for multiple dwelling to build 40 or more stories high. Didn't the U of S recently announce its intent to build several new student housing complexes? How about more support for organizations like Habitat for Humanity?

We have a sidewalk clearing bylaw. If we have suites over garages with alley access, will we have to clear the back lane to allow for public access? Will these suites be required to be handicapped accessible? I won't even get going on street parking.

One commenter mentioned these suites will give an opportunity for some to generate revenue. That is true, but lets hope that commentator will include that revenue on his/her tax return and and give the government its share. Then the government can use that new revenue to support social housing.

For most of us our homes are not just a place of refuge but the single or only investment we have. The our eggs are in one basket and the city appears to want to scramble them. Its great if you like scrambled eggs. I don't.


  1. Ah Mistress,

    The problem I see with making changes to accommodate a few people that want to increase revenue off their home is the total lack of respect for the existing zoning bylaws. The current conditions set up in many of our neighborhoods has been to not allow any domicile within the 20 feet at the front and the rear of the property. This new bylaw amendment would revert our city back to the days of Victorian times. If they make this change they had better change all future zoning requirements so all those new areas get crunched to the max. No more 60' lots everyone gets 25' and you get to build right to the property line. Just think we could have the scene from Sesame Street in every neighborhood. What a joy that will be.

  2. "I have seen suites in this city that I wouldn't let my dog stay in, yet they continue exist without intervention by the city primarily because of the shortage if rental properties. What makes you think illegal garage/garden suites will not be handled in the same fashion?"

    Well, if you understand basic market theory (which it appears you and literally every poster to this forum do) then you would realize that allowing garage suites means more supply.

    With this greater choice in the marketplace, renters can reject substandard suites. Further, with greater supply, those renting out suites need to provide more incentive (ie - better suites) to the market.

    You claim that the problem that leads to these substandard suites is low supply. Yet you also claim increasing supply will exacerbate the problem.

    Your logic is void.

  3. I have to agree with Anon 11:44, it seems Elaine's concern is less with the garage suites and more with the city's enforcement of bylaws. Considering I've heard rumors that their already exists some garage suites in Saskatoon, which obviously would be illegal now, I don't think allowing them would do anything to promote new illegal, unsafe suites, if anything it will provide a standard for those building suites to meet, not the other way around (i.e. providing a reason to build illegal suites).

    As for the random, ridiculous concern about the revenue from the suites not being you are just grasping at straws, all rental income is taxed, what indication is their that garage suites would be any different?

    I can understand your concern over changing the zoning regulation, but again, I think you are blowing things out of proportion. The city has already consulted on the garage suites and it looks as if they will be doing more consultation. Maybe not quite as direct as with the re-zoning of an individual site, but you really can't say they are arbitrarily changing the zoning regulations. You have had the opportunity to voice your opinion and it sounds like you will again.

    Finally in regards to supporting other affordable housing and density projects...yes, I like those (well not the 40 story towers), but I also like garage suites, one solution is not going to solve all our cities problems, but many small solutions might...and personally I'd rather see density increased via small increases that maintain the aesthetic character of a neighourhood (e.g. garage suites) than 40 story towers that completely change an area.


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