Thursday, March 3, 2011

Zoned out

It would appear that the city planning department is hell bent on destroying centre city neighbourhoods. The change in zoning to allow for garage suites (SP Mar. 3/11) will attract speculators to buy and convert existing residential homes into multi-dwelling rentals. Residents in areas already affected by a preponderance of rentals will attest to the harm done to the character of their residential neighbourhood and their use and enjoyment of their home.

Those chomping at the bit for this change are the folks that want to make a lot of money from their property before vacating the area. The young people wanting it see it as an avenue to help pay the mortgage - they haven't yet experienced the joy of having a tenant skip out on the rent or destroy the suite.

The greatest irritant is buying a home under one set of zoning bylaws only to have the city alter the zoning. You think you've invested in a family home in a nice quiet residential neighbourhood only to find out your neighbourhood is about to become a shack tent mecca. But it will be affordable housing for some that have nothing more to invest than a month's rent.

I can only hope that they will throw us city centre residents a bone by legislating the home with the suite must be owner occupied. And that the owner must convert their backyard to a parking lot to provide on site parking. Then again, the city will not enforce this bylaw anymore than they enforce the existence of illegal suites under the current bylaw.

Somewhere down a road a future city council will struggle with the rejuvenation and redevelopment of Nutana much like this council is trying to do with Riversdale today. So much for learning from past mistakes.


  1. You speak as if you are in tune with what others in this city are thinking and fortunately you are far from knowledgable about what people want for this city.

    As a home owner in a core neighbourhood with a suite in my home, I would love to be able to see more of this type of development. It would be great if my suite were across the backyard above my garage. And no, I don't fint into the category of wanting to make some quick cash then leave the neighbourhood.

    This is a great way of increasing activity in our city core and providing more housing options. Two things that are very desirable.

    This is something that has been proven to work in other cities.......despite initial concern from the frightened old upkeepers of the status quo, so it's great to see we may finally get with the program and move on this great idea.

  2. Elaine you sound like a true NUTANA NIMBYist!

  3. Anon 9:39 - I would be curious to hear how your neighbours feel. You fail to mention whether or not yours is a legal suite, or whether you would keep both your basement suite and have a garage suite. Do you provide on site parking for your tenant? Better yet, do you declare the rent as income? And if the city turned around tomorrow and told you they were changing the zoning and restricting your area to single dwelling only and you had to boot your tenant, would you be happy?

    Anon 11:35 - Caught red-handed. Yes I am a Nutana NIMBYist. But I have watched over the years how some areas of Nutana and Varsity View have decayed with the conversion of single family residences to multi-dwelling rental suites. And as recently as a week ago I heard a realtor describing some areas of Buena Vista as becoming a little dodgy. I just find it sad to see old areas of the city sacrificed for what some deem to be the greater good.

    For those who live in the new developments, I doubt those howeowners will be putting suites above their four car garages. They are the people who have finally moved on up and left their starter homes, with suites, behind.

  4. Anon 9:39 here...

    Elaine your response to my question epitomizes the pettiness of your arguement. Going after me as opposed to making an arguement. Yup, legal main floor suite and the income is declared. Parking is available....but neither of us use it. It's more convenient to park on the street and none of the neighbours have a problem with it. We get along great.

    As for keeping it if I had a garage suite...there's lots of variable to that. In my post I do say it would be great if the suite were across the yard...implying that is better than having it where it is now. So yeah, I'd likely prefer to just have the garage suite, but of I course I don't yet have that option and really my point is that I'm a home-owning, professional living in the core neighbourhoods that would be happy to see garage suites go up along my block.

    In all likelihood if/when I want to move to a single family house, I hope it will be in my current neighbourhood and I'd gladly live on the same street as my current house, even if it had a garage suite. It would be great to live in a vibrant, busy neighbourhood and it would be great to have more neighbourhoods that you can buy your first home in, then if you need to move to a bigger house, it can be in the same area.

    Which leads to answering your question about changing to zoning. That's part of living in a city and I hope that our city continues to evolve into an even better city than it is now and yes, changes to zoning will be a part of it. Neigbhourhoods change, that's just a fact of life. If the city would propose something that was trying to turn a core neighbourhood in a boring suburb, yes I'd fight that, but we aren't talking about agreeing or disagree with the city and neighbourhoods changing from time. That's not the issue, the issue is whether granny/garage suites are good idea or not and I think they are a great idea. Demographics are changing, living costs are rising, peoples preferences are changing, taxes are increasing and garage suites are a good way of slowly helping address all of these issues, while also making for some nice additions to our neighbourhoods.

    Now a question for you. Have you ever looking into what garage/granny suites are like in other cities? Or research what issues or successes other places have had? Or is this all based of a fear of something different that you haven't seen before?

  5. Anon 9:39 you have this romanticized image of 'vibrant neighborhoods' bustling with friendly people shuffling along the block and adding a buzz to your block.

    Your perceived neighborhood is far from the reality of what it will be.

  6. The Mistres seems to believe that if granny suites and the like are legalized, they will all be concentrated in Nutana. By reducing the restrictions across most residential zones, the increase in the number of rental units can be absorbed across the city. I seriously doubt that entire streets will see their populations double because granny suites are allowed.


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