City of Barrie votes to tighten rules on building secondary detached dwellings

Barrie City Councillors voted unanimously to stiffen rules around secondary detached dwellings, making it more challenging for those looking to build.

"The effect of this will no doubt will mean that there are many neighbourhoods in the city that won't see these built." Mayor Jeff Lehman voiced the most notable criticism at Monday night's virtual meeting, saying second suite apartments in homes are "good solutions for affordable housing."

"Accessory dwelling units are not a good solution for affordable housing," Lehman added.


According to the City of Barrie, a second suite is a self-contained unit with a kitchen, bathroom, living and sleeping area within the same house on a property, such as a basement apartment or in-law suite above a garage.

A detached accessory dwelling unit is a type of second suite that is located on the same property but not within the same house, such as a garden suite, granny flat, or any standalone unit that is smaller than the main house.


At Monday's meeting, councillors approved several amendments to the zoning bylaw, including a minimum rear yard setback of seven metres, not allowing basements and limiting the structure to 45 per cent of the total floor area of the main house.

Since the province loosened rules around detached accessory dwellings in 2019, the issue has pitted residents against developers and neighbours against one another.

"Will this solve the affordability problem? It will not," said Ward 1 Councillor Clare Riepma. "A small number of units are going to be built as third suites, but the number is too small to move the needle at all."


Several residents voiced concerns, some against the changes, saying more regulations will hurt supply.

"The reason rents are so high is because the lack of supply," said realtor Colby Marshall. "By creating this seven-metre rear yard setback, which is almost double what staff recommended, you will hinder the development of not only detached suites but second suites."

Ward 1 Residents Association's Clint Tyler spoke in favour of heavier restrictions to limit the impact on surrounding neighbourhoods.

"The potential would be that it would make the neighbourhood unliveable, and under these circumstances, they have given us much hope," he noted.


Council also voted to allow housing on institutional lots, such as churches, to make a more significant impact in the push for more affordable housing.

"Just one of those buildings would be more affordable units than have been created through the accessory dwelling buildings in the entire city," Lehman said.

City councillors committed to funding two new staff to enforce bylaw issues related to secondary suites and dwellings for 18 months.

The city said there are currently 49 applications for secondary detached dwellings, which will be processed under the old bylaw.