Second Residential Units

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Consultation has concluded

Note: At it's June 6 meeting, Planning Committee recommended that the proposed zoning by-law and Official Plan amendments for second residential units be approved. The recommendation will be brought forward to the June 18, 2019 Council meeting.


The City of Kingston is proposing to amend the zoning bylaws to allow for more second residential units throughout the city. Associated Official Plan Amendments are also being proposed. Second residential units are also referred to as secondary suites, basement apartments, granny flats, in-law apartments, or as coach houses when detached from the principal home.

They are self-contained residential units that are in

Note: At it's June 6 meeting, Planning Committee recommended that the proposed zoning by-law and Official Plan amendments for second residential units be approved. The recommendation will be brought forward to the June 18, 2019 Council meeting.


The City of Kingston is proposing to amend the zoning bylaws to allow for more second residential units throughout the city. Associated Official Plan Amendments are also being proposed. Second residential units are also referred to as secondary suites, basement apartments, granny flats, in-law apartments, or as coach houses when detached from the principal home.

They are self-contained residential units that are in addition to a principal residential unit and have separate access, private kitchen, bathroom facilities, and living space within the principal home or in an accessory building.

In 2011, the Planning Act was amended to require municipalities to establish Official Plan policies and Zoning Bylaw provisions allowing second residential units in single detached, semi-detached and row houses, as well as in ancillary structures. The City’s Official Plan permits second residential units within single detached dwellings, semi-detached dwellings, linked and row houses, as well as in accessory structures. The Official Plan also states that the zoning bylaw shall identify locations where second residential units are permitted, being all areas that permit single detached dwellings, semi-detached dwellings, and linked and row houses.

Currently, the City’s Zoning Bylaws only permit second residential units in certain areas of the city and requires them to be located within the principal home. Proposed changes include expanding the areas where second residential units are permitted and allowing second residential units to be detached from the principal home.

See more information on the existing regulations for second residential units.

The proposed amendments were presented at a public meeting on July 5, 2018 and a survey was also held between June 27 to July 13 to obtain additional input. Revisions have since been made to the proposed amendments and highlights of the changes are indicated below:

View a summary of proposed Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw amendments.

February 2019

The proposed revised amendments are undergoing a technical review process and have also been posted to receive public feedback from January 21 to February 4, 2019, at which time further revisions will be made and presented with staff recommendations during a Public Meeting to the Planning Committee in early Spring 2019.

If approved, proposed changes will create updates to Zoning Bylaws (95-259, 76-26, 97-102, 32-74, 8499, 3072 and 8402 ) and amendments to the Official Plan.

May 2019

The following amendments are a result of the feedback received from the February 2019 engagement and will be presented at a Planning Committee Public Meeting on June 6, 2019.

CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

Leave your questions and comments on the proposed zoning bylaw and official plan amendments.


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    I support the expansion of housing available especially to low-income and moderate income people, but of course it must be safe housing. What protections if any are built into the proposal to ensure the housing is safe but available/affordable?

    David Toupin asked over 1 year ago

    The establishment of a second residential unit must be in compliance with the Ontario Building Code and Fire Code. The building permit process includes inspections during construction to ensure the unit is in compliance. Zone regulations are also being proposed to ensure protection for health and safety. One such provision is the requirement to provide an unobstructed walkway to a second residential unit within a dwelling. This is also required for a detached second residential unit when a driveway cannot be provided. The purpose of this regulation is to ensure there is adequate access for emergency services to access the second residential unit.  A minimum distance is also required from the primary dwelling to a detached second residential unit (when a driveway cannot be provided) to accommodate the length of a fire hose to reach the detached second residential unit and maneuver within the unit.

    In addition, regulations are also being proposed in servicing constraint areas, which will assist in ensuring health and safety (for example, areas that are at increased risk of basement flooding are not permitted to establish a second residential unit in the basement).

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    This is a wonderful proposal that seems to be well thought out. Kingston is made up of a unique diaspora of all ranges of society and income levels, a growing student population, and efforts to bring more business (and with that, employees) and so we need to ensure that we have housing available. As a young professional myself, I know that we do not have enough available currently, especially close to the downtown core, and I think this will assist with this greatly.

    justin.klimkait asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for the comment. Your comment has been noted and will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.

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    Although I can agree with the over-all objective of increasing housing density for Kingston, particularly as new construction building is designed, I remain concerned about the disintegration of stable family neighbourhoods such as Calvin Park and Polson Park, where there is continuing pressure to accommodate post-secondary students from Queen's and St. Lawrence. Without a doubt, these students need a place to live, but transforming of neighbourhoods designed for single family housing perhaps is not the best answer. I have lived in this "family neighbourhood" for over 40 years. The streets are curvy and there are no sidewalks. The street is where people and kids walk. The homes are mostly modest bungalows with single driveways; most with no garage. It is convenient to transit, schools and even the downtown. It is one of the few places where young families CAN afford a house, albeit modest and not new. It was a wonderful place for our children to grow up. In the past few years, most times when a house comes up for sale (usually the owner died or moved into a care facility), it is scooped up by someone who wishes to convert it into a student rental. More people are crammed into each house, the number of vehicles doubles or triples, the property maintenance erodes. On street parking makes walking and bike riding for children hazardous, and at times has even blocked potential access for emergency vehicles. I won't even mention the potential for noise and disorderly behaviour, given the city's limited resources for enforcement. Does this exercise contribute to an increase in affordable housing for permanent Kingston residents? I think not. Does this approach contribute to fair taxation of residents for city services? I think not. If we are to proceed with allowing secondary residences on a city-wide basis, I would hope that the approval process could take into consideration the design of the house and of the neighbourhood, to ensure that the probability of maintaining the neighbourhood characteristics remains. Is it possible that the approvals process can include specific neighbourhood characteristics in the consideration?

    Jan Ley asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for the comments. Your comments have been noted and will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.

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    I continue to believe that this will be a wonderful plan to provide affordable housing to the working class of Kingston. I work in hotel management, and see that most entry level staff (which make up for 60% of all hotel staff) some of which are in their 50s,even 60s, making 14$/hr, no pension, and are living in tiny apartments that cost 1200-1500/month. They take the bus to work, as they cannot afford a vehicle. So I do not foresee parking/traffic being an issue, as I’ve seen in previous comments. I also believe that this plan could potentially save the city alot of money down the road in subsidy programs due to the affordability rate. Overall I think this proposal will significantly improve the quality of living for most Kingstonians.

    Jesse.C asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for your comments. Your comments have been noted and will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.

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    Traffic is a concern, more people = more cars, preserving property values, setting rents appropriate with value of the home and area, fire safety and inspection. I like the idea that a secondary suite could be built on a larger property that is not attached to the home. There is concern that homes will be purchased and made rentals for 1st and 2nd suites in neighbourhoods where the majority of homes are occupied by their owners. Owners living in their home who wish to have a secondary suite could be allowable while turning an entire home into multiple units should have further restrictions.

    CITIZENL asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for your comments. Your comments have been noted and will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.

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    I fully support the proposal to allow more secondary suites throughout the City. Kingston needs more affordable housing and this solution will help resolve the issue.

    konysko asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for your comments. Your comments have been noted and will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.

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    We own a detached home on 22 acres of land in Joyceville. How will a detached secondary residence be taxed? Are there any grants, loans or other measures in place at the municipal, provincial or federal level of government to offset construction costs?

    RitaG asked over 1 year ago

    The City of Kingston provides municipal planning fee rebates and capital funding assistance to create a new, or legalize an existing second residential unit. For more information please visit the program web page.

    https://www.cityofkingston.ca/residents/community-services/housing/programs/secondary-suites

    All structures on a property that are used or occupied for residential purposes are assessed and taxed at the residential rate.

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    I think it would be worth considering the idea of having both units accessible from the front of the property, so that they each individually would have their own entrance. Possibly one going to the upstairs unit and one going to the basement (secondary suite). Obviously the aesthetic and structural design would have to be considered so that the integrity and value of the main property would not be compromised. I believe this would be more financially viable option for homeowners who are looking to do a secondary suite, thereby increasing the number of rentals units available to the public.

    Stephanie Weima asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for your comments. Your comments have been noted and will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.

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    All the issues with the city's developments seem to be around transportation...I.e. cars. I think the city is going to hit a wall if they dont start thinking about the big picture of how to reduce cars on the road or better manage the congestion. If people can't park their cars or insufficient other options that's a main factor in where they are going to want to live. Kingston is expanding quick. Quicker than ever. Private rental rates are actually quite reasonable. Property taxes go up every year 2.5 percent. Hydro, insurance and mortgage rates go up. $230,000 mortgage is roughly $1100 month. Plus $4200/year property taxes Plus $300 month hydro Plus $120 month water Plus $100 month insurance (with tenant coverage) Plus maintenance $100/m ? Just a numbers game. Wealthy people without mortgages can afford to house some one in their basement, but they usually dont want the hassle. So really it's up to the big guys with deep pockets and shady rules.

    Cleahbunting asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for your comments. Your comment has been noted and will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.

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    I have lived in a single family neighbourhood for 32 years having outgrown our semi-detached dwelling. I am concerned that the integrity of our neighbourhood not be compromised to account for insufficient medium or high density housing. I bought here for a purpose that was to live on a quiet street with limited traffic. We are already seeing secondary units cropping up creating a noticeable increase in on-street parking and a general increase in traffic year round. One house in particular has gone from 3 occupants to 7 or 8 and an 3 additional vehicles. Perhaps the city should be encouraging more medium to high density development with the use of tax incentives etc. I see no problem with taking in an elderly family member. I see that as being different than boxing off your house in additional rooms potentially creating a ghetto effect. Surely there is also the potential for underground utilities to become compromised being that they were originally designed on the basis of allowable population densities established many years ago.

    Paul Price asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for your comments. Your comment has been noted and will be taken into consideration as the final recommended amendments are prepared.