Larger sheds, granny flats and short-term rentals are all highlights of East Ferris’ new zoning bylaw
East Ferris has unveiled its new revised zoning bylaws. The strong points? Allow second units, allow short-term rentals, and increase the size of sheds and garages.
The zoning bylaw hasn’t been fully updated since 1978, and Greg Kirton, East Ferris’ planning director, rose to the challenge.
It was a feat, he admitted, a process of about two years. For a time he had the help of a planning intern – funds for that provided by the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation – but over the past six to eight months, Kirton mostly worked solo to update the document.
The current zoning by-law was approved in 1978, with a major amendment in 1982, and since then “probably hundreds of amendments” have been made over the years as the council went about municipal business.
“Consolidating all the different rule changes over the past 40 years has been no small task,” Kirton said.
“We really had to go through everything line by line and update everything.”
Indeed, the behind-the-scenes work was done primarily by Kirton, however, there was a lot of community and board input as to what would go into the new document.
An open house was held, along with three planning consultation meetings and two board meetings to generate ideas for the draft.
In addition to public involvement, Kirton needed to ensure that all municipal zoning bylaws harmonized and also complied with all existing regulations set by the province.
Overall, many minor changes were made to the existing regulations, and Kirton also improved the format and language for clarity.
However, there are three big changes to the code, the first being that the municipality now allows second units on its property.
This allocation marks “a major change,” Kirton said, because “current regulations do not allow for any secondary units.”
This opens the door to basement apartments or the addition of a side yard granny flat. Rule 3.30 sets out all the rules and regulations.
Allowing second units is not a choice, Kirton noted, the provincial government mandated it under the Place to Grow Act.
The second units “help alleviate stress in the housing market,” Kirton explained.
The second major change in the updated rules is allowing short-term rentals, the type primarily listed on sites such as Airbnb and Vrbo.
The possibility of short-term rentals has been a compelling and sometimes divisive issue within the community – “the majority of feedback we’ve received has been around this,” Kirton said.
It was “by far the subject that most people were interested in during this process”, he added.
The municipality “explored the idea of outright banning” short-term rentals, but felt it would be difficult to enforce such a ban given its resources.
Therefore, Airbnb and other short-term rentals will be allowed, but they will be “subject to the provisions of a short-term rental regulation that will be adopted in the near future”.
Kirton expects these new regulations to be drafted in early February.
See: Short Term Rentals on East Ferris Radar
The third highlight of the settlement is that “we have increased the permitted sizes of accessory structures,” Kirton said, meaning larger sheds and garages are permitted.
He noted that over the years many waiver requests “to increase the size of accessory structures” came through the municipal office, “and there was no problem with them,” so they decided to include it in the policy.
Article 3.2.7 of the regulations provides information on accessory constructions.
Kirton notes that the new zoning bylaw, while freshly drafted, is a living document and subject to change over the years.
“I think it’s a great starting point,” he said, “and I think we’ll continue to monitor it for the first few years and note anything we need to change.”
The new zoning bylaw comes into effect in February and the full document can be found on the East Ferris website.
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