Homes made into small apartment buildings anger neighbours

Developers and neighbours alike are hoping for clearer rules about renovating single-family homes into small apartment buildings.

Single-family homes in student heavy neighbourhoods being turned into small apartment buildings

Developers and neighbours alike are hoping for clearer rules about renovating single-family homes into small apartment buildings.

It's happening more and more often around the city's two university campuses — Sandy Hill and Old Ottawa South, for example — where there's demand for convenient student housing.

Some single-family homes are being renovated into small buildings that can house 20 people.

Paul Gammon lives next to 167 Aylmer Ave. in Old Ottawa South. The former three-bedroom house has been converted into a boxy building with four apartments and 16 bedrooms.

'It's totally out of character,' neighbour says

Paul Gammon, second from right, attends a public meeting about the zoning rules for converting single-family homes into small apartment buildings. (Kate Porter/CBC)

"It's totally out of character ... It looks pretty much like an eyesore," Gammon said.

"I look at this and I say, well that could happen next door. And I have kids and I have shared green space with lots of people that we all enjoy ... and all of a sudden that could just be wholly compromised.

"And until 167 Aylmer came along, I had no idea that could happen in my neighbourhood. It was a very frightening wake-up call that made me go running to look at the zoning laws," he said.

Gammon said that in addition to the building being out of character, several "frat houses" with a lot of students have caused problems elsewhere in the neighbourhood.

He said residents are worried about noise and invasion of privacy, among other things, and that it'll be hard to control.

'We control our buildings very closely,' developer says

Rakan Abushaar — a partner in Black Iris, the developer behind 167 Aylmer Ave. and others like it — disagrees. He said residents fear the worst but insists Black Iris manages its buildings well.

"It's in stark contrast to a bunch of students renting an old house with a front porch and living it up and creating a lot of chaos without any control. We control our buildings very closely," he said, adding that his company doesn't want to butt heads with residents.

Gammon wants clearer rules about zoning. He doesn't think people should buy into one idea of a neighbourhood only to later end up with an unwanted surprise next door. 

A bylaw that clears up the grey areas should be crafted by early next year.


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