Thursday, May 12, 2011

Castle and kings/queens

Today's Opinion column (SP May 12/11) deals with the need for infill regulations and I couldn't agree more. Anyone living in one of Saskatoon's older neighbourhoods who complains about infill changes is automatically labelled a NIMBY. But for the so called NIMBYs its not about change, but the type of change.

For the majority of us, the only investment in real estate that we make is our family home - our castle and the only place where you can be king or queen. I could only hope that others in the city might understand why home owners object to a developer tearing down a house and replacing it with a building that destroys both the neighbourhood character and their use and enjoyment of their home. The controversay around the re-location of Mr. Shinkaruk's home on the corner of Clarence and College has brought this issue to light.

Many cities in North America protect their historic neighbourhoods with architectural controls. I think Saskatoon should consider doing the same. If you want to tear down an old house and rebuild on the lot, I'm good with that. But build to the character of the neighbourhood. Many new developments already have architectural controls built in that prevent these problems in the future.

Too many times in older neighbourhoods an investor has bought a large older home, cut it into umpteen suites, packed the place with tenants and then let the place run down. The neighbouring properties pay the price both through use and enjoyment of their home and a diminished value of their property because of the adjacent eyesore.

I don't have a huge problem with people taking a tenant into their own home. I expect that the average homeowner is not going to want to live with exceptional noise or destruction of their property and thus the ambiance of the neighbourhood will be maintained.

When the garage/granny suites come to be, I for one will be writing the tax authorities to ensure that the revenue from these properties are claimed for taxation purposes. If commercial landlords pay tax on their rental income, then the mini landlords do likewise.

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