Ottawa’s planning committee has approved zoning changes that would allow coach houses in backyards, despite hearing from community associations worried the city-wide approach doesn’t take into account differences between neighbourhoods.
The Ontario government requires cities to allow for extra dwellings in their official plans as a way to boost the stock of affordable housing.
But until now Ottawa’s zoning rules have only allowed apartments within existing homes, not separate residential units on the same property.
City staff said they’ve conducted extensive consultations over the last year, but community associations in some neighbourhoods such as Champlain Park urged planners to return to the drawing board.
They fear allowing the small homes could lead to mature trees being removed or killed, especially if the units are built on the edges of lots or have basements.
How many tiny houses could Ottawa see?
Despite those concerns, staff said they don’t foresee many of the houses popping up in Ottawa yards.
“I don’t see this as changing the fabric of Ottawa,” said John Smit, who manages policy development and urban design for the city.
Smit said he’d be surprised if the city receives more than a few dozen applications for permits each year because it only hands out about 100 permits for basement apartments, which are far cheaper and easier to build.