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Houses with Income Suites in Collingwood

So you want to buy a house in Collingwood with a basement apartment that you can rent out.  The income will help pay the mortgage and carry costs.  Easy plan, right?  Not so fast.

Recently, I attended an excellent seminar put on by Collingwood planning officials that pointed out the considerations that buyers, renovators and sellers of residential, multi-unit homes need to consider.  First, a quick overview of the planning process in Ontario:

Planning has become a very complex process which is impacted by a variety of legislations such as Provincial Policy Statements, Official Plans, County and local by-laws and fire codes which all need to be meshed with the will of private developers and builders seeking to meet their own goals.

First, Ontario releases Provincial Policy Statements such as this one on land use planning that dictate certain criteria municipal planners must take into account.  From that, upper tier governments such as Simcoe County, develop Official Plans that consider densities, population targets and caps, employment lands and infrastructure.  This OP directs the member municipalities, such as Collingwood, Clearview and Wasaga Beach on these matters as each develops its own official plans which are then subject to approval, amendment and updates.

It’s not over yet.  From the local official plan, municipal planners work with the council of the day, via public input, to develop the zoning by-laws which are the tool used to implement the vision and goals stated in the OP.  The zoning by-law specifies the details about what is permitted in what location, how much of a lot can be covered, how far away from lot lines a building can be located and other such details.

Then there are politics.  For example, when the NDP government took power in the mid 1990’s, they made all accessory apartments legal for a period of about three years.  Then the new government came into power and cancelled that.  For units that were in existence during those three years, they may be grandfathered with approvals exempting them from current zoning requirements.  You can see how tricky this gets.

So what are the things potential buyers need to know BEFORE they buy?  Find the answers in  Part 2 next week.

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