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Why Adding Secondary Dwelling Units Is Great For Sarnia

Back in August I made a motion “that staff report on reviewing our policies surrounding secondary dwelling units, especially to address the urgent and growing issue of student housing. This report should include the impact that the recent provincial changes have on our municipal policies, any possible collaboration with Lambton College, and an overview of the current zoning close to the college to help address this issue.” That motion passed and then this past meeting council we officially removed the arbitrary restrictions that were preventing these from being allowed in many neighbourhoods. A great report from Stacey Forfar was submitted that did some important work to lay out what our new policies would look like, that report indicated that “there is an initiative at all levels of government to increase the supply and range of affordable housing opportunities in Ontario communities. Secondary dwelling units in existing homes are recognized as one of the most cost effective and efficient ways in achieving this.” There also was a poll on the city site that indicated 74% of responses supported secondary dwelling units in the proposed areas in this application. It’s great to see that there is good support from the rest of the city in making this change.

There are many good reasons as to why allowing secondary dwelling units are great for Sarnia, such as:

  1. Provides Passive Income for Home Owner
  2. Increases Home Value
  3. Allow Housing for People of Diverse Ages
  4. Create More Affordable Housing Options in Sarnia
  5. Help Relieve Pressure From Increase of Students at Lambton College
  6. Avoids Having Absentee Landlords or Slumlords
  7. Better Use Of Otherwise Empty Space
  8. Drives Down the Cost of City Infrastructure per Resident (Increase Density)
  9. Preserves the Character of Existing Neighbourhoods
  10. Keeps Families and Communities Close But While Still Retaining Privacy

One of my goals in being a city councillor was to start addressing the systemic issues that are at play in preventing Sarnia from flourishing and living up to the potential we all know that it has. I think this was a real win for our community and that we will see the benefits from this move in the decades to come. A big thanks to all the staff for their research and hard work in making this a reality.

4 Comments

  • Your point #6 indicates that this proposal eliminates absentee landlords and slumlords. Correct me if I am mistaken but didn’t I hear you propose an amendment at the last council meeting that would eliminate the need for the owner to live in one of the residences? I believe the amendment was turned down. Was the proposal due to pressure from constituents? Our biggest fear is allowing investors buying up properties, turning them into duplexes and then renting booth of them out.

  • Hey Cathy, that proposal that I made was for short term rentals that I proposed that, not secondary dwelling units. Generally secondary dwelling units are added to an owner occupied home rather then them having a rental at another part of town. And if it’s part of their own home they have incentive for it to be kept up well.

    • Nathan, Perhaps you should re-read the by-law amendment that you voted on. Owner occupied was NOT a criteria of secondary dwelling units.

      • Hi Carol, I know it wasn’t.  I never suggested it was.
        Owner occupied is a requirement for the Short Term Rental proposed legislation.

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