Council gets mobile home definitions sorted out

Councillors here will likely heave a sigh of relief when their new zoning bylaw is finally passed.

In that bylaw will be a clarification about the uses of granny or garden suites and what can be used as that housing.

Councillors have held several lengthy debates and been forced to delay approvals over the definitions and if a mobile home can be used as a garden suite.

Council received an eight page report from chief administrative officer Patty Sinnamon outlining the differences in the old bylaw and what is planned in the new one.

Mayor Bruce Whale also pointed out that a garden suite must be used by family members, and not by hired help.

Sinnamon told him the new legislation does not differentiate between hired help and relatives.

Whale noted that a recent applicant for a garden suite was using a mobile home for a garden suite for his elderly parents.

Sinnamon noted that bylaw would need two exemptions from the current rules: being allowed a mobile home, and being permitted to connect it to the main house with a breezeway.

Councillor Jim Curry suggested the township simply write its new bylaw in line with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation definitions.

But Sinnamon said it is more important for council to adhere to the provincial Planning Act, which makes no distinctions between a mobile or modular home. She added it is hard to tell the two apart, but the township had the distinction in its old bylaw.

Councillor Mike Downey wondered why the old bylaw said the unit could not be attached to the house. He said in winter it would be easier to travel back and forth from the unit to the house.

Sinnamon said that is in the Planning Act.

But Downey said, “In rural Ontario, for elderly parents, what’s the big deal?”

Whale suggested the township simply agreed that a garden suite and house “may be attached by a breezeway.”

Councillor Neil Driscoll was unhappy with the difficulties in sorting out the issue.

“Look at all the time we had to go through for a granny flat,” he said. “It’s ridiculous.”

He said mobile homes are not necessarily a good thing for a township trying to attract visitors, and the money spent could have built an addition to the house.

Whale said the provincial government is encouraging “aging at home” and said the problem is how people manage to do that at reasonable cost.

Council then accepted Sinnamon’s report for information.