Homeless hopes to benefit as Mississauga legalizes basement apartments

August 21, 2013 - All News

Staff Writer
Homeless and low-income class of Peel Region hopes to benefit from the City of Mississauga’s new zoning bylaws that now allow second units or basement apartments in homes.
The city council recently approved a plan to legalize second units in Mississauga following the introduction of new laws in Ontario, which require municipalities to permit second units in homes.
These units can be basement apartments, in-law suites, secondary suites or second units.
“Not only would this put affordable units on the market, but would benefit elderly people who want to stay in their own homes as they age but find it expensive on a fixed income,” said Edna Toth, chair of Peel Poverty Action Group (PPAG), an organization that includes homeless people who stand to benefit from an increase in the housing supply. “It would help residents who find themselves temporarily jobless and fall behind in mortgage payments.”
“In fact, as early as March 2010, a year before the Ontario government compelled municipalities to allow double-dwelling, PPAG asked Caledon, Mississauga and Brampton councils to soften zoning restrictions to allow secondary dwellings,” said Toth.
She said legalization of secondary units will not only help homeless and low income class, but will also help newcomers to Canada.
Promoting affordable housing, the Ontario government introduced new Bill 140 in 2011. The Bill required all municipalities to implement policies and zoning by-law provisions that allow second units in detached, semi–detached and townhouses, or as accessory units.
Earlier only those registered secondary apartments that were built before Nov. 16, 1995 were considered as legal.
After the introduction of Bill 140, various municipalities, including Brampton and Mississauga, have been holding public meeting for finding a solution to longstanding issue of legalizing basement apartments.
“With our plan, homeowners will be able to make their units safe and legal. Every city needs safe, affordable housing for people to feel they belong,” said Ed Sajecki, the Mississauga’s commissioner of Planning & Building. “The city’s second units plan will help to improve affordable housing in Mississauga.”
Sajecki said the official plan amendment and zoning bylaw changes approved by the council now permit second units in homes.
He however mentioned that the units must meet Ontario Building Code standards.
The council also approved a licensing program, and will consider a proposed bylaw to support the program sometime in the fall.
If approved, the bylaw will set licensing fees and other requirements, such as inspections and proof of insurance, for owners who want to rent second units.
“The city’s goals for legalizing second units include ensuring safety, preserving neighbourhood character and maintaining public services,” said Heather MacDonald, director of Strategic Housing Initiatives.
The City’s Second Units Implementation Strategy is part of Housing Choices: Mississauga’s Affordable Housing Strategy.
A public education program about legal second units in Mississauga will be available in the fall of 2013.
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