Councillor seeks tougher rules for Sandy Hill development

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Garbage, parking and cladding – oh, my.

By Emma Jackson.

Infill issues are back on the agenda as Coun. Mathieu Fleury asks the planning committee to require extra scrutiny for Sandy Hill.

If the committee agrees Tuesday, all residential development applications would be subject to an extra site plan control process, although it would be limited to making sure building materials complement the heritage neighbourhood and that there’s adequate space for parking and waste bins.

“When that’s not properly designed and planned for, then its hodge-podge on the property,” Mr. Fleury said.

The neighbourhood is under pressure as demand for student housing drives conversions, additions and multi-residential infill along the historic red-bricked streets.

There are already several levels of development protection in place, but Mr. Fleury says it’s not enough.

“We want to make sure nothing falls through the cracks,” he said.


With every extra bedroom comes more garbage to deal with, Mr. Fleury said. But right now, if the applicant meets zoning requirements they’ll get their building permit without having to explain where they’ll stash the extra trash. Under the new rules, any application will have to prove there’s proper space for waste bins on site.


Parking would also face extra scrutiny under Mr. Fleury’s new rules. He said it’s tied into the garbage problem: sometimes the only space left over for parking is so “unrealistic,” there’s no room to take waste bins from the backyard to the front – so they end up staying up front, where they’re an eyesore.

Building materials:

While infill shouldn’t copy nearby heritage styles, it should at least try to complement it, and that’s what Mr. Fleury hopes this extra scrutiny will accomplish in Sandy Hill. Five heritage conservation districts in the neighbourhood already operate under heritage development guidelines, but this change would apply similar principles to everything in between.

Limited cost:

Applicants wouldn’t have to do a full site plan workup – a process that can cost between $3,124 and $18,236 in fees – but only focus on the three issues of parking, garbage and building materials, Mr. Fleury said. That will reduce fees to a maximum of $3,000. Some may get away with no fees at all, depending on the size of their addition and if it's visible from the street.

Bigger picture:

This latest measure is part of a broader effort to protect Sandy Hill from losing its heritage character. In early 2017, Mr. Fleury expects staff to finish its review of the area’s blanket R4 zoning, which allows everything from single homes to four-storey apartment buildings. He said that’s “too permissible” and expects the report to recommend areas where the zoning should be reduced.