Coach houses unwelcome in tony Rockcliffe Park, community association says

The community association for the tony Ottawa neighbourhood of Rockcliffe Park says it wants an exemption from any future legislation that would allow small residential buildings — commonly known as coach houses — to be built in backyards.

City to unveil draft proposal on coach houses to Rockcliffe residents Wednesday night

Michael Shepel stands in the yard of a laneway home he purchased in Vancouver in 2015. Ontario wants municipalities to allow coach houses like these, but a community association in Ottawa's Rockcliffe Park neighbourhood is opposed to the idea. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

The community association for the tony Ottawa neighbourhood of Rockcliffe Park says it wants an exemption from any future legislation that would allow small residential buildings — commonly known as coach houses — to be built in backyards.

Ontario wants municipalities to allow them, and to that end the City of Ottawa has been consulting with neighbourhoods across town about it. A draft proposal is being unveiled Wednesday night for residents in Rockcliffe.

But the Rockcliffe Park Residents Association is opposed to the idea, saying the neighbourhood is a heritage conservation district and needs to be protected from more development.

"As a heritage area it is worth protecting, and the application of additional residential units within an area such as this ... is just really contrary to the whole idea of the heritage," said Peter Lewis, the association's president, in an interview in CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning Wednesday.

"Why bring an intensification initiative into an area that's very definition talks about limits on density, limits on intensification? It just seems to be completely counterintuitive to me."

Here's an example of a coach house in Victoria, B.C. As home prices in certain cities soar out of reach for many, a growing number of Canadians are turning to alternative styles of housing from laneway homes to tiny ones. (Canadian Press)

'Property owners could be hemmed in'

Bryan Dickson, the association's vice-president, says coach houses would hurt the look and feel of the community.

Peter Lewis, right, and Bryan Dickson, left, of the Rockcliffe Park Residents Association, say they want their neighbourhood exempt from any legislation that would allow coach houses and laneway homes. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

"I think you have to remember that coach houses will take up up to 40 per cent of a backyard. You've mentioned a neighbour, but I'd like you to consider neighbours [plural], because there is a real possibility that property owners could be hemmed in by coach houses," he said.

"So instead of seeing greenery, trees, landscaping, you would see the wall of a so-called coach house."

He also said that while the province's objective is to combat suburban sprawl by increasing density, "cultural heritage shall be preserved," he said.

"That's really what we're talking about here. Rockcliffe is a cultural heritage landscape."

The meeting Wednesday night is taking place at the Rockcliffe Park Community Hall on Springfield Road at 7 p.m.


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