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New housing options coming to Tillsonburg

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New housing options should be available in Tillsonburg after the Town amends its official plan and zoning by-laws to allow ‘additional residential units.’

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“I’m glad to see that this is coming forward,” said Councillor Chris Parker at the Jan. 19 Tillsonburg Council meeting.

“We’ve had discussions in the Affordable and Attainable Housing Committee in regards to additional residential units (ARUs). I think this will be a very positive change for the Town and will hopefully alleviate some of the housing issues that we’re currently seeing.”

“These are similar conversations that have transpired at the County,” said Mayor Stephen Molnar, noting the ‘tiny home’ has also been discussed as alternative and affordable housing.

In an Oxford Planning report to Council, it was noted the Province recently updated legislation to allow the establishment of ARUs for single detached and semi-detached row housing in certain lower density housing types and removing barriers, primarily through Bill 108 (More Homes, More Choice Act 2019).

“This report is in response to a number of amendments to both Provincial legislation and Provincial policy over the past five or six years,” said Eric Gilbert, Oxford County Senior Planner, at the Jan. 19 Council meeting.

Highlighted in his report, Gilbert noted the intention was to increase the supply of affordable housing, increase the supply of rental housing, increase flexibility in existing housing, and make more efficient use of land, infrastructure and public services.

Since Bill 108 was announced – and amended – Oxford Planning staff have received numerous inquiries, said Gilbert, who recommended Council direct planning staff to ‘review Provincial legislation with respect to additional residential units and initiate changes to the Town’s official plan and zoning by-law, established in 2008, and to establish requirements for those units,’ which was adopted.

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“I’m extremely excited about the first part,” said Molnar.

Deputy Mayor Dave Beres questioned Gilbert about ‘one parking spot per unit.’

“Is there any control that the local municipality would have over that?” asked Beres.

Provinical policy states you cannot require more than one parking spot for each ARU, Gilbert said.

“The parking spot may be divided in the driveway behind another car.”

If there was an issue with on-street parking, traffic by-laws (or street-parking by-laws) could be amended.

“Does this (ARU) include basement apartments?” asked Councillor Deb Gilvesy.

“Yes, it could be basement apartments… or you could have a separate upstairs apartment perhaps in an existing dwelling,” said Gilbert. “They would be self-contained units.”

Converted dwellings, however, would require council approval, he noted.

“Are these units attached to the house?” asked Councillor Penny Esseltine. “It’s not a separate building in the backyard?”

“It could be a separate building,” said Gilbert. “That’s one of the options. A lot of people (new home builders) are asking if they can have a completely separate unit in the basement – built in while the house is built – but currently that would require a zone change.”

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