The R4 study is an important review that the City has undertaken to address Bunkhouses and approval of built forms that are not in accordance with character of communities. We believe that the Interim Control By Law has helped in capturing the worst offenders by not allowing them to proceed to approval until proper policies are enacted.
For Sandy Hill specifically the Siteplan lite review has helped in ensuring proper review of new developments by the planning department. It has helped in capturing issues of materials, garbage management, unit layout but has not gotten to the root of the issue which is the amount of bedrooms within the property envelop.
We would like to explore the opportunity of having the height of the building be measured from the base of the livable space rather than from ground level, if 4 units are permitted than 4 stories should be sufficient to breakdown each unit. Further to that point, the basements have become livable spaces in all new buildings. As things stand now, buildings are being permitted to be built with an extra unit in the basement all while meeting the current height regulations, which creates a tenuous conditions for the unit layout as it creates a 5 story. This has been an issue for the City and our communities.
The height restrictions on buildings are in place to properly manage built form and density. The rules are being skirted in this case as height is being gained through the creation of full basement units. Appreciating that staff have put a bedroom cap in the R4 zone at 4 bedrooms per unit, my community and I would like to see that decreased as the number of bedrooms on a given lot as it presents further challenges and continue to encourage bunkhouse like layouts.
The current proposal suggests that a maximum of 16 bedrooms (4 units with a max of 4 bedrooms) although that is an improvement from the what was preciously allowed, we would suggest the appropriate number of bedrooms should be 10 in the R4 zone. A building with 10 bedrooms in an R4 would encourage a diversity of unit size and bedrooms and therefore encourage an array of demographics to enjoy these rental accommodations.
If City staff chooses to continue to support a 16 bedroom count I would ask that the garbage enclosure be required to be built within the building in order to force the property owner and the tenants to self-manage their waste and not push that problem onto the City and the community (neighbours). Perhaps even consider that any property above 10 bedrooms would be required to have private pick up for solid waste.
Furthermore, it is important for us that the Siteplan lite for Sandy Hill be continued with this process as it allows for City experts from the planning department to review the proposals and bring changes to an application to ensure that the character of the community in respected.
We are encouraged to see that staff are pursuing a phase 2 review for the R4 study and that for that period the Interim Control Bylaw would continue. On two separate points that are as important. It is essential to have a proper understanding of the purpose of capturing the dwelling units that will be required to be licensed as rooming houses as it is unclear for myself and my community, at this time, what this license requirement will achieve.
Finally, it is important for staff to report back as part of the phase 2 review on the R4 zones which do not have a unit count limit as to what the bedroom count limit would be, to ensure that we are not completing this review of our R4 zones without having solved the root challenges of the bunkhouse conditions.