Monster home

If you bought and live in a home in Sydenham, did you know you could wake up one day to the sound of construction next door?  Imagine your horror if you open the blinds and find A WHOLE NEW HOUSE going up in the back yard of the house next to you.

You used to be friends with the neighbour that owned that house.  She was a little bit older, and has now sold the home on the open market to a young couple who seemed nice.  But lo and behold:  rather than live in it, that couple is actually planning to run a very profitable business out of that nice little house beside you.

Their business, you see, is to collect as much rental income as possible.  So naturally, the new owners are putting in another eight bedrooms in an “addition” to the house:  another whole structure the same size, or even bigger!? than the original house on the lot.  And all of this is perfectly legal.

Not only is it legal, but a public meeting to hear neighbours’ concerns isn’t even required.  That’s how you could wake up one morning to find that your lovely home is about to be sitting next to a de-facto apartment building, in the middle of what you thought was a stable residential neighbourhood of single-family homes.

Well, your Councillor (me) is working to change the law.  With new updated bylaws that specifically describe what is allowed on a single-family dwelling lot (this is a legal definition), such huge additions would require a public meeting, and perhaps approval of Council before proceeding.  This Bylaw update is sorely needed, in fact it is long overdue.

Please help me get these changes done by contacting the City’s Planning department or attending one of many public meetings on the Zoning Bylaw Update, and make your concerns known directly to City staff.  They have to listen and they need your help!

There was a full public meeting with a professional mediator on Wednesday March 1st 2017 at City Hall.  The room was full and the conversation was productive.

If you live in Sydenham, you’re accustomed to having students as neighbours.  No big deal, most students are model citizens.  The type of occupants is not an issue with anyone if they are living in similar-sized dwellings.  But all of that changes when you put dozens of renters in one location.  Property standards will always suffer in this circumstance, and it has nothing to do with the occupation of the occupants, it has to do with bad urban planning:  allowing too much density with too little amenity space.  Real apartment buildings have all kinds of extra stuff included to deal with the higher density on that lot.  Houses in a residential area are designed for approximately 2-6 occupants.  If you replace the outdoor amenity space (the backyard) with another dwelling, you get problems.  Imagine all the strain on a block that comes with higher density:  extra cars, extra garbage and recycling, more noise, more traffic, less privacy, etc…

It’s not fair to just impose higher density on the owners of single-family dwellings, as the permissive bylaws have done.

As always, thanks for your support as I continue to fight for residents’ rights in Sydenham.

Peter Stroud