Support City of Ottawa Legalization of Granny Flats Garden Suites and Garage Apartments
The city of Ottawa has released its draft recommendations re the introduction of coach houses. Citizens have until July 22, 2016 to make comments.
You can download a copy of their report from dropbox, https://www.dropbox.com/s/xr4gc8h8zj10tjh/coach_houses_draft_recc_en.pdf?dl=0
Please send your comments to: Tim Moerman 613-580-2424×13944 (Tim.Moerman@ottawa.ca)
PROF BRUCE’S COMMENTS JULY 17, 2016
Dear Mr Moerman,
As you know, I’ve supported this worthwhile initiative by the city of Ottawa since I first learned of it.
It’ll not only help citizens of Ottawa find a place for their elders to live that is more affordable and keeps them attached to both their neighborhood and family, it will also assist folks with a returning adult child (often accompanied by a child of their own) and provide an additional source of income for families–either a young couple struggling to pay their mortgage or retired persons in need of supplementary income.
It is, moreover, consistent with making Ottawa a more dense, intense and interesting place to live-work-play-learn-make-shop-entertain…
Building a competitive brand for Ottawa is essential to convince young people that they can stay in a smaller city like this and do world class things. Our young persons are our future and we cannot afford to lose them to Toronto, Chicago, New York, LA, Shanghai, London etc.
Having said this, I have some comments on your draft recommendations for your consideration including:
1. it is an oversight in my view to
exclude coach houses in rural areas (defined as those lots/lands serviced by
private well and septic system)
2. these rural property owners
(including local farmers) are some of the most disadvantaged persons living in
the national capital region–they need extra income provided by coach houses and
the city needs to add to its farm-stay network in Ottawa-Carleton
3. this position has been supported
by the FEDERATION OF AGRICULTURE in a separate letter to your department
4. issues such as sufficiency of
water supply and septic capacity as well as nitrate dispersion can be handled
by requiring that coach house development in rural areas be accompanied by an
engineering report that demonstrates these issues can be satisfactorily managed
5. I believe that the limit on coach
house dwelling size should be set at 50% of principal dwelling unit footprint
and 50% of lot coverage not 40%; this still maintains the character of local
streetscapes, but allows homeowners to build structures that are large enough
to be economically sound as well as viable for their occupants–costs to erect
coach houses are non-trivial (as they include a development charge as well as
significant investment in terms of their water and sewer connections) and many
of those costs are of the fixed variety
6. heights should be 1 and ½ storeys
not 1 storey; this would allow coach house designers to add a loft for
7. coach houses should be (as much as
possible) visitable, 0-step homes to allow elders and disabled easier access
8. they also require two bedrooms to
be viable designs–since, by the time most couple are in their 50s, 60s, 70s or
80s, they need two separate rooms
9. here is a sample design for your
review–please note each circle denotes the turning radius for a wheelchair, and
this deign has not only a 0-step entry but also a wheelchair accessible bedroom
and w/c as well as loft for grandchildren
10. I also believe that frontyard
parking should be permitted (including an additional driveway) as long as it is
provided by hardscaping and not asphalt
I hope you and your colleagues will take the above into account before you finalize your report to council.
Yours very truly,
Bruce M Firestone, PhD
Ottawa Senators founder
ROYAL LePAGE Performance Realty broker
Real Estate Investment coach
making impossible possible
If you want a place for your mother-in-law to live that is affordable and keeps her attached to both her neighborhood and family, if you want somewhere for a returning adult child to live, if you are a young person struggling to pay your mortgage or a retired person in need of supplementary income, then take 5 or 10 minutes and complete this city of Ottawa questionnaire, https://ottawa.ca/en/city-hall/public-consultations/planning-and-infrastructure/secondary-dwelling-units-accessory.
Support the addition of granny flats/garden suites/coach houses to residential backyards and the construction of apartments above a detached garage. It’ll not only provide more income and affordable housing, it’ll animate our cities, densify them and make them more interesting.
Please spread the word!
Emily Davies, MES-Plan, MCIP RPP Planner II
Policy Development and Urban Design Branch, City of Ottawa
@ profbruce @ quantum_entity
MY COMMENTS IN CAPS ON CITY OF OTTAWA DRAFT REPORT (FEBRUARY 2ND 2016):
Only permitting Coach Houses on lots which have a detached dwelling or semi detached dwelling; AGREE
• Limiting the height of a Coach House to one storey unless the unit is above a garage or facing a public laneway, which will allow for a two storey Coach House; AGREE
• Only permitting properties to have either a Coach House or a secondary dwelling unit within the home, but not both; I THINK TO TRULY ANIMATE OUR COMMUNITIES, THE CITY SHOULD ALLOW BOTH—IT WILL ESPECIALLY HELP ELDERS WHO A) WANT COMPANY B) WHICH IMPROVES THEIR SECURITY AND C) BOOSTS THEIR INCOME. REMEMBER, THE AVERAGE CPP PAYOUT TODAY IS JUST $550/MONTH. TRY LIVING ON THAT! ALSO, YOUNG PEOPLE BUYING HOMES NEED THE EXTRA INCOME TOO.
• Only permitting Coach Houses in the rear yard; AGREE
• Limiting the size of the Coach House to 40% of the footprint of the primary home up to a maximum of 95 metres square; I WOULD USE 50%; 95 SQ M IS FINE
• Requiring that a Coach House cannot exceed a lot coverage of 40% of the rear yard; and AGAIN I WOULD USE 50%
• Prohibiting Coach Houses on properties which are serviced by a private well and septic system. I WOULD AMEND THAT TO ALLOW COACH HOUSES ON RURAL PROPERTY AS LONG AS EITHER SEPTIC CAPACITY IS PROVEN TO BE ADEQUATE OR, IF NOT, IT WILL BE ADDED TO BY A PROFESSIONAL LICENSED INSTALLER, IF YOU DON’T ALLOW THIS THEN RURAL HOMEOWNERS WILL BE AT A DISADVANTAGE
Here’s a draft letter from OFA (Ontario Federation of Agriculture) on this, https://profbruce.tumblr.com/post/139926149149/draft-letter-to-city-of-ottawa-from-ontario
Here’s another comment on coach houses in rural areas:
Emily, as I said yesterday I think the city of Ottawa should allow coach houses on rural lots as long as they demonstrate that their existing septic system is adequate or that it can be adequately improved to deal with flow. I suspect the demand/flow would not be significantly different than adding an in-home (lower level) suite for example. If they want to do both (an in-home suite and a coach house), again they have to demonstrate septic capacity. To do that, they’ll need an engineering report from a qualified, licensed septic installer/designer.
As far as nitrates are concerned, have them also submit an environmental engineering report showing either that nitrate concentrations at their property boundaries will meet or exceed MOEE standards or that they will install an appropriate nitrate removal system.
Many townships and counties surrounding Ottawa allow coach houses on rural property. This helps rural people with large families or families living in a multi generational way. It also helps them financially either by lowering their costs (families now have to budget between $2,500 and $5,000 monthly to put elders in retirement residences whereas having a senior living on their lot in a coach house might cost less than $1,000) or raising their incomes. For example, farm stays or rural stays are a big part of many farmers’ or rural people’s incomes these days—you’ll see many of them offering their existing coach houses on airbnb or flipkey.
Can you reconsider?
Ps here are a couple of articles about a) removing nitrates and b) dilution:
Biological Treatment Helps Remove Nitrate, Sulfate
By Mark Reinsel
Nitrate and sulfate are common contaminants in surface water and groundwater associated with mining operations. Three biological treatment systems have successfully removed nitrate and sulfate at the Kettle River Operations near Republic, WA, since their construction in 2005-06. These facilities are operated by Kinross Gold Corp. Mine water and mining-impacted groundwater are treated to meet State of Washington antidegradation standards for groundwater discharge. Treatment is accomplished with a combination of engineered reactors and in situ treatment.
Nitrate is commonly removed from wastewater in both industrial and municipal applications with biological treatment using nitrate-reducing (denitrifying) bacteria. Added methanol or a comparable carbon source typically serves as an electron donor for the bacteria. In this reaction, denitrifying bacteria reduce nitrate to nitrogen gas, oxidize methanol to carbon dioxide and create more bacteria (biomass). Including methanol demand for dissolved oxygen, approximately 3 mg/L of methanol is required for each mg/L of nitrate-nitrogen. Nitrogen gas and carbon dioxide, which are natural constituents of the atmosphere, passively vent from the treatment system.
Evaluating Groundwater Nitrates from On-Lot Septic Systems, a Guidance Model for Land Planning in Pennsylvania
James R. Taylor, Penn State Great Valley, School of Graduate Professional Studies
As land development in Pennsylvania continues to expand into rural areas, land owners, planners and regulators struggle to balance development with the need to provide sustainable drinking water quality. In many areas throughout the state, residential subdivisions will use conventional on-lot septic systems and water wells. When lots are clustered into high density subdivisions, nitrates from septic systems, lawn fertilizers or historic land use can concentrate in the shallow groundwater at levels exceeding safe drinking water standards. Once in the groundwater, nitrates are mobile and fairly recalcitrant and tend to persist for long periods of time, sometimes migrating great distances down-gradient from the source. Dilution from infiltrating groundwater recharge is the primary attenuation process for nitrates; so that providing sufficient lot or open space acreage to allow offsetting groundwater recharge for each septic system is essential to maintain water quality. A mass balance model is presented in this paper as a planning tool to estimate the lot size needed to provide sufficient recharge to maintain nitrate concentrations below a desired water quality goal. The model adapts similar methods presented by others with multiple elements of the nitrate-groundwater system in a unique manner that incorporates common input variables, Pennsylvania specific default values, or more complex site specific information so that is can be used by a variety of user abilities.
Note: literally moments after I wrote this email to Ms Davies, a former student of mine sent this to me and Emily:
I agree with all Bruce’s comments–especially the one about
allowing both coach houses and a secondary dwelling unit inside the home.
The situation I’m envisioning in my foreseeable future is
both my mother, and mother-in-law both wanting to live with me. The more
options I have available if that happens, the better.
Here’s another comment; this one about accessibility:
I think there needs to be a discussion surrounding
barrier-free design for these coach houses, such as the minimum standard of
VisitAbility. Sustainability often discusses energy efficiency and a reduced
strain on infrastructure, but it needs to include affordability and some type of
Universal Design (VisitAbility being the easiest to implement and most
cost-effective). Suppliers like Guildcrest and Bonneville could easily produce
a VisitAble coach house to fit your proposed specifications.
Seeing as our Older Adult Plan is promoting adaptable,
age-friendly homes in the PGM 2016 mandate, this only seems to make sense in my
Roger Gervais, Eastern
Certified Aging in Place Specialist
To submit your own comments, please review the report https://documents.ottawa.ca/sites/documents.ottawa.ca/files/documents/coach_houses_draft_recc_en.pdf and then send your comments to:
MES-Plan, MCIP RPP
Policy Development and Urban Design
Services de l’urbanisme et de la
gestion de la croissance
City of Ottawa | Ville
postscript: here are the answers I gave to the city’s coach house questionnaire, https://old.dramatispersonae.org/images/city-of-ottawa-Coach-House-Online-Questionnaire-bruce-firestone-oct-2015.pdf
postscript: other things that will help animate our towns and cities include–garage offices, garage micro retail, secondary suites, grow local, frontyard parking…
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