A local contractor offered a possible means to alleviate some aspects of the housing crunch in Highlands East.

Gary Burtch, who owns G.J. Burtch Construction Enterprises Ltd., said during the June 13 township council meeting that one of the biggest issues in Highlands East has to do with the lack of housing. Specifically, he cited a lack of rental properties in the township.

It’s an issue many people have been lamenting in all four of Haliburton County’s lower tier municipalities. And the lack of housing units to rent or purchase has been offered as a reason behind troubles with a thin labour market.

Burtch said there’s also an issue with how to help aging parents.

“A lot of times, the parent is getting older and they want their independence, but they can’t be totally independent,” he said.

That’s what he started thinking about a Granny Flat.

He doesn’t see why anybody with a large enough lot can’t build something that could accommodate their parents.

Burtch said provincial guidelines stipulate that builds have to be on water a sewer hookups. And in Haliburton County, he said, that’s basically limited to downtown Minden Hills.

“If you have a large lot, why can’t you put a second septic, second well on there?” he said. “And this is what I’m looking at.”

Allowing a second dwelling on a property would help people to comfortably age at home.

He suggested the lot’s second dwelling can also be offered as a starter home to a young family who would like to remain in Highlands East but can’t afford a home in today’s real estate market.

Burtch suggested to township council some conditions that may make such an arrangement more in line with some of the requirements of various bylaws.

He said second dwelling could be limited to lots of two acres or more away from lakes and rivers.

“We’re having so much issues right now with short-term rentals on cottage lots causing issues with the neighbours,” he said.

Municipalities could allow only units up to 1,200-square-feet with separate septic and well systems.

“A granny flat (of) 800- or 900-square-feet is plenty,” he said. “Twelve-hundred (square feet), you can almost put three bedrooms on the same floor.”

Both homes owned by the same person and with a shared driveway has to be sold together, he said. Then such property and bylaw considerations as severances need to be worked out.

Burtch suggested council consider allowing on lots away from a river or lake more square footage of living space above a garage that would allow a bathroom and kitchen.

“There’s so much talk about we can’t get professionals to Haliburton County because there’s nowhere to live,” he said. “Or we can’t get labour because there’s nowhere to live.

“This will help that issue by having a rental unit that’s under control and not too large.”

Mayor Dave Burton, who was a professional water well driller, said it makes perfect sense to have the pairs of septic systems and water wells separate for the units.

“It depends on where you build on your lot,” Burtch said. “You could always use a shared well. The biggest issue is the second septic on a lot. There’s an issue with that with some municipalities.”

Burton asked if Burtch if he’s approached the provincial government with his ideas about providing housing.

“The province right now is more into larger centres,” Burtch said. “They’re too GTA-oriented. I haven’t gone that far yet.”

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By James Matthews, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 21, 2023 at 07:50

This item reprinted with permission from   Haliburton County Echo   Haliburton, Ontario
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