SCUGOG: In response to the strong and repeated deputations of John Lucyk, Martha Casson, Valerie Cranmer, and many other concerned Scugog residents, councillors decided to remove the definition of ‘communal dwelling’ from its new zoning by-law, at the third council meeting on March 17.
The issue of communal dwellings, raised by the recent push for affordable housing by seniors who wish to have shared-ownership of a home, saw a long and arduous debate since December of last year. The concept, which was raised by Scugog Township’s own Seniors Advisory Committee, was originally embraced by the council at-large, but ran into many bureaucratic roadblocks.
“This process has been upsetting to all involved, but like any new venture, we needed to carefully examine and debate every aspect – right down to the wording on the pages,” said Scugog Township Mayor Chuck Mercier. “I understand now why we only revamp our zoning by-laws every thirty years or so, but I would like to congratulate Mr. Don Gordon [Scugog Township Director of Community Services] and the citizens who made deputations, on the work they have done.”
Ms. Martha Casson, one of the spear-head supporters of the new housing concept, said “I am pleased that there has been a realization of the right for people to live in whatever ownership configuration they wish, this is a major step forward in ensuring that the Municipality does not discourage seniors from continuing to manage their options as they evolve.”
Despite council’s revision of the zoning bylaw, several problems still remained to be addressed, including the Township’s wish to avoid the possibility of student dormitories or rooming houses being erected in the future.
Mr. Gordon assured councillors that the newly revised zoning definitions include measures to protect the historic streets of Scugog from such an occurrence.
Mr. John Lucyk, owner and operator of Lucyk Renovations in Port Perry and the builder of the original shared-ownership home, was not entirely pleased with the length of time and difficulty undertaken during the process.
“My application for a building permit was denied in December of 2013, based on an assumed use – assumptions are not reasonable grounds for denial,” said Mr. Lucyk. “Now I am told that the permit will be allowed, under a new definition of ‘dwelling, single-detached’ – yet I still remain today without a permit in my hands. How dare you [councillors] try to control how our elders choose to live the final years of their lives.”
Mr. Lucyk went on to explain that his prospective residents and buyers have withdrawn from sharedownership, due to the stress and confusion of the matter, and that he will face a personal financial loss. Councillors John Hancock and Howard Danson responded to Mr. Lucyk’s deputation by explaining that the task has been long and difficult, despite the best of intentions.
The last of many bylaw issues raised during the meeting was the definition of retirement homes, which were considered vague by resident Louise Bardswich during her deputation.
“It comes down to the issue of the provision of services, which remains unclear in the pages of the zoning by-law,” said Ms. Bardswich. “I don’t think a by-law should have residents referencing staff reports, we need to use the official definition set out in the Retirement Home Act, in order to make sure that homes built years from now, with many rooms and a large lot, are not wrongfully labeled as retirement homes.”
Scugog Township councillors carried a motion to change the definition of retirement homes to the more specific ‘a premises licensed under the Retirement Homes Act of 2010.’ Namely, the definition states that a retirement home is “a residential complex that is occupied primarily by seniors, occupied or intended to be occupied by at least the prescribed number of persons who are not related to the operator of the home, and where the operator of the home makes at least two care services available, directly or indirectly, to the residents.”
Councillor Howard Danson stated that he was “not sure who is more relieved by this resolution, the delegates or the Township. This has been a 9-month long task, and I am glad we could reach an agreement.”