By Chad Ingram
Published March 22 2018
Algonquin Highlands councillors were not big on the idea of allowing additional residences on large waterfront properties as they reviewed the township’s official plan at a meeting last week.
The official plan is undergoing its mandated review process and that discussion was part of a three-hour conversation council had regarding the plan during a March 17 meeting.
“Where more than one dwelling exists on a property in a residential compound type situation the existing development may be permitted but the addition of any further dwellings on the property should not be permitted” the official plan reads. “Expansion of existing buildings or structures or the addition of accessory structures should only be permitted where the intent and principles of the plan will be addressed.”
Comments on that section included in the official plan review report from Bracebridge’s Planscape consulting firm included that “Consideration could be given to allowing additional habitable buildings where lots are of substantial size.”
Mayor Carol Moffatt said there are a couple of existing family compounds on waterfront properties in the municipality.
“There are former resorts that have a lot of buildings there’s one on Kushog and it was a resort that had a number of cottages and a family bought the whole thing so it’s now a family compound” Moffatt said. “And so those are existing they’re allowed because they’re existing.”
Moffatt was uncomfortable with the idea of a regulation that would essentially allow for the creation of new family compounds by allowing additional residential buildings on waterfront lots.
“I don’t think we want to” she said.
Deputy Mayor Liz Danielsen was thinking of the shortage of affordable and alternative housing in Haliburton County.
“When you look at the waiting list for people who are waiting for social housing and waiting for five and seven 10 years for places people can’t afford homes” Danielsen said. “We have a serious shortage of housing in the county and very little opportunity in Algonquin Highlands to deal with that.”
Moffatt referencing the affordable housing framework from the Kawartha Lakes Haliburton Housing Corporation said that settlement areas not waterfront properties were the location for that type of development.
“You have to remember though that based on all the conversations . . . a large waterfront lot and there are very few of them that exist is not the place to put people that need assisted housing because transportation’s attached to that access to the grocery store is attached to that” she said. “And so while we’ve had a conversation with [housing corporation CEO] Hope Lee about can we ever have the housing board do something in Algonquin Highlands . . . the problem is we’re so rural.”
Moffatt pointed out that affordable housing developments are typically established in areas where a sewer system for example already exists.
“It can be done but it just eats up a whole bunch of your costs to have to have a massive septic system in a rural environment” she said.
Even within settlement areas within Algonquin Highlands however Moffatt said there are challenges.
“But again if we wanted to do something at Oxtongue Lake there’s no grocery store so where are people going to do their shopping and banking?” she said.
Moffatt noted there are provisions that allow some secondary residences.
“How we can get around that in an area like ours is with the garden suites and carriage houses those accommodations have been made to allow for a little more of that and so Algonquin Highlands can still provide additional and alternative types of housing but it’s not going to be in a condo” she said.
A public open house on the official plan is being scheduled for July with a public meeting where members of the public can provide input in August.