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Belleville planning committee approves second units in residential buildings

The Planning Advisory Committee voted to allow second units in Belleville Monday night. Photo by Matt Morgan, QNet News

By Mike Fleming [1]

BELLEVILLE – A plan to allow secondary housing units in detached and semi-detached homes is moving forward.

Belleville’s planning advisory committee passed a bylaw amendment to allow secondary units in a meeting Monday evening.

The amendment must now be passed by council and will be brought there in the near future.

Many members of the public spoke up in favour, including John-Ross Parks, president of the Quinte Home Builders’ Association [2], and Jill Raycroft, chief executive officer of the Belleville Chamber of Commerce [3].

Many Belleville residents attended the advisory committee meeting, some to voice their support of the second unit amendment. Photo by Matt Morgan, QNet News

“I just wanted to commend you for bringing this forward,” Raycroft said in her address to the committee. “I think it supports the need for affordable housing.”

Parks said the homebuilder’s association supports the amendment not only because of the need for affordable housing, but because he says this will allow for more jobs in the building sector.

“We need tradespeople as it is,” says Parks in an interview with QNet News.  “So hopefully this is going to create more work and, in turn, grow Belleville.”

Parks also mentioned he believes that making secondary units legal will help to eliminate dangerous living situations.

“It’s going to be a lot safer for everyone, in regards to fire codes and general health and safety,” he said.

Any second unit would need to meet certain criteria, including having adequate parking. The city also plans to create a registry of these secondary units in the future.

Mayor-elect Mitch Panciuk, who was sitting in for the absent councillor Egerton Boyce, said it’s about time this amendment was moved forward.

“I think this brings illegal secondary suites into compliance and gives us the ability to protect the people living there,” he said.

Councillor Paul Carr also voiced his support before the vote, though he cautioned against too much leniency when it came to sacrificing landscaping in favour of parking.

“I understand the need for flexibility,” Carr states but adds, “a little bit of green space, front yard and landscaping goes along way.”

According to the city, the purpose of the bylaw amendment is to bring Belleville up to date with various laws and plans at the provincial level concerning housing. These include Ontario’s Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy and the Strong Communities Through Affordable Housing Act of 2011. The minister of housing has also made a call to all municipalities in the province to update legislation to permit second units.