The city’s new infill guidelines were discussed at an April 10 meeting and at the request of Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury, Kitchissippi Coun. Katherine Hobbs put forward a motion to include a potential amendment governing home conversions.
The amendment, which would be a pilot project in the Sandy Hill neighbourhood at first, would compel anyone seeking to turn a single-unit dwelling into a multi-unit dwelling of three units or more to submit a site plan control application. Currently, developers or individuals need only apply for a building permit.
At an Action Sandy Hill meeting on April 30, residents commended the move.
“I think it is important the councillor went further than what the study called for,” said Jane Gurr, chairwoman of the planning committee for Action Sandy Hill. “This amendment has exceeded our expectations.”
House conversions, the board said, are becoming more and more popular in the neighbourhood which houses numerous students from the University of Ottawa.
Fleury’s plan seeks to have these types of conversions go through the scrutiny of a site plan control approval.
“The infill guidelines were created because of complaints and concerns from residents,” Fleury said. “What we felt was missing was something on conversions, where big houses get turned into a number of smaller units.”
Site plan control is a city-regulated process used to control a number of features on a development site. Community organizations can make concerns knowN during the approval process and city staff must approve a development before a building permit can be issued.
“In some cases it is dealing with garbage, in other cases it is parking,” Fleury said. “It is another layer to protect the neighbourhood with these type of conversions.”
As a pilot project, city staff would report back to planning committee in three years with an evaluation of the amendment.
Gurr said the Action Sandy Hill planning committee had hoped something like what Fleury proposed would be adopted, but they did not expect anything until the infill study guidelines were approved.
Action Sandy Hill president Christopher Collmorgen said he would like to see stronger penalties for developers who do not comply.
“We see people who decide it is better to ask for forgiveness then permission, there should be a way (to make) the penalty so severe people won’t risk it,” he said.
City council was due to vote on the amendment at a meeting on May 8.