RSCA Response to City of Ottawa Secondary Dwelling units in Accessory Structures Zoning Study

Riverside South Community Association comments on the City of Ottawa: Secondary Dwelling units in Accessory Structures Zoning Study

The Riverside South Community Association (RSCA) agrees with the comments and concerns outlined in the Federation of Citizens’ Associations of Ottawa (FCA) submission by Sheila Perry, VP and Liaison, Planning and Zoning in response to the Secondary Dwelling units in Accessory Structures Zoning Study that was completed recently.

Every community has unique characteristics which need to be recognized and accommodated for when implementing the type of zoning provision as proposed in this study. Riverside South a suburban community represents a mix of housing types generally on smaller lots. The community is relatively new with a young tree cover in most cases. The disturbance of the lots to construct these accessory structures including the required services could cause some of this vegetation to be damaged. Privacy concerns would be another obvious issue with the smaller lots. A “one size fits all” citywide secondary dwelling in accessory structure zoning By-law would not accommodate for the type of constraints and parameters of this community.

The recently approved Riverside South Community Design Plan removes most of two large Urban Natural Areas on the south side of Earl Armstrong. The loss of this tree cover will certainly exacerbate density and quality of life expectations of the residents living or planning to live in this community. The inclusion of these secondary dwelling units in accessory structures as proposed would diminish the amount of open green space available on our housing lots and make it very difficult to add or increase tree and/or vegetation cover on these smaller lots.

There are a number of elements or criteria in this report that need to be clearly addressed and included in the next phase of this review process. RSCA support the following statements or general concerns that were identified in the FCA submission:

  1. The Coach House By-law needs to be linked with the Urban Tree Conservation By-law as well as the City’s By-laws protecting trees on City Property. It needs to be cognizant of the Urban Forest Management Plan, which is being developed.
  2. These secondary dwelling units in accessory buildings should have no basements
  3. Lot coverage value should apply only to rear yard area of the principle residence; it should not include the side yard area leading to the Coach House. The value also must include coverage by the rear yard decks and porches, since all structures remove permeable surfaces from rear yards, limit vegetation and contribute to the heat island effect.

Ottawa is proposing to implement a By-law that will apply to most properties, but provide little control over impacts on abutting properties and the environment. It will not be appealable to the OMB. (It is very important to get it right)

  • Secondary units must comply with any applicable laws and standards. This includes the Building Code, the Fire Code and property standards bylaws.
  • Municipalities should assess where second units may be appropriate in the primary dwelling versus the ancillary structure.
  • Exclude wood-burning fireplaces.
  • Construction equipment during the construction process must take measures to protect trees on subject and abutting lots.
  • Privacy intrusion or overlook issues
  • Protection of abutting property concerns
  • Noise Pollution (mitigation measures)
  • Air Pollution (mitigation measures)
  • Restrict building height to one storey (with no person access i.e. balcony, roof top deck, etc.)
  • Develop specific appropriateness criteria for allowing a Coach House over a garage.
  • Setbacks should identify minimums not maximums
  • Assess implications for abutting neighbours (as part of the secondary dwelling application process)
  • Parking and laneway concerns (suburban communities have limited ability to accommodate additional parking and laneway improvements)
  • Density issues – implications (Riverside South will comprise of a large number of medium and high density housing in addition to low density housing). Has this review considered the likely increased congestion on our city roads, increased parks and recreation usage and/or requirements, access to social and medical services, spatial/personal space concerns with having dwelling units in backyards with little to no privacy accommodations.
  • Additional on-street parking issues (existing on street parking pressures)


Bruce Lindsay
RSCA Community Development Coordinator

Federation of Citizens Associations (FCA) – Coach Houses – July 22, 2016