Secondary Dwelling units in Accessory Structures Zoning Study

Overview and Timelines

Project consultation activities are planned as part of the study process until late summer/early fall 2016.

The City is undertaking a zoning study that will determine the appropriate zones and standards to permit secondary dwelling units within accessory structures, in residential neighbourhoods. These types of dwelling units are essentially a small apartment or suite in the backyard of a home or along a laneway.

The City already permits a secondary dwelling in detached, linked-detached, semi-detached or townhouse dwelling in any zone where that dwelling type is listed as a permitted use. The current definition of a secondary dwelling unit is:

This image shows the a graphic sketch of three homes on three separate lots, each with a detached secondary dwelling unit in the rear yard.

a separate dwelling unit subsidiary to and located in the same building as an associated principal dwelling unit; and its creation does not result in the creation of a semi-detached dwelling, duplex dwelling, three-unit dwelling or converted dwelling.

What is being proposed?

This study proposes to amend the Zoning By-law to also permit secondary dwelling units within accessory structures in residential zones.  The study will consider the possible zoning provisions and standards at which any new secondary dwelling unit within an accessory structure must meet. The study will also consider further limiting the types of dwelling units that may have a secondary dwelling unit within an accessory structure.

Why now?

The province of Ontario, through the Strong Communities through Affordable Housing Act, 2011 requires municipalities to authorize second units in detached, semi–detached and row houses, as well as in ancillary structures. The City of Ottawa currently permits Secondary Dwelling Units (SDU’s) within primary residential buildings in all residential zones. However our policy structure and current zoning provisions do not allow for SDU’s in accessory structures as-of-right, for example in detached garages. The Planning and Growth Management Department has received numerous public inquiries requesting policy and zoning support for SDU’s in accessory structures. Many Canadian and American municipalities have put in place policy and zoning mechanisms to allow SDU’s in accessory structures. SDU’s support intensification goals by providing opportunities to introduce more dwellings in established neighbourhoods and broaden affordable housing options.

The Study Area

The Study area is city wide, looking at allowing these types of units on urban, suburban and rural properties.  

Discussion Paper

The Discussion Paper is intended to review the considerations surrounding permitting secondary dwelling units within accessory structures. This form of residential intensification will be termed Coach Houses in the City of Ottawa with intent to depict a small apartment in a backyard of a home or above a detached garage.

 Discussion Paper [ PDF 6.25 MB ]

Online Questionnaire Results

The questionnaire solicited public feedback on specific issues with allowing Coach Houses. The feedback generated from the questionnaire will help to determine the applicable zoning regulations that are considered for the next phase of the study. The questionnaire closed on November 6, 2015 and during that period, 436 questionnaires were received.

Results Report [ PDF 1.730 MB ]

Guiding Principles and Draft Recommendations Paper

The Guiding Principles and Draft Recommendation Paper provides the basic principles that were used to inform the directions of the draft Zoning By-law performance standards to allow Coach Houses in Ottawa. The Guiding Principles were formed from the public feedback from the first consultation and the direction of the provincial legislation. 

 Guiding Principles and Draft Recommendation Paper [PDF 1.088 MB] 

The Guiding Principles and Draft Recommendations paper invited general comments from the public. The comments were welcomed on any topic to help further shape the policy and Zoning By-law provisions for how to allow Coach Houses in Ottawa. The comment period commenced with the preparation of the paper on January 26, 2016 and closed February 29, 2016. During this time 130 submissions were received providing 354 comments over a variety of topics.

Results Report [PDF 1.037 MB] 

UPDATED Timelines (spring 2016)

The below timelines have been adjusted to allow further analysis of the comments received during the second round of public consultation on the Guiding Principles and Draft Recommendations Paper. There will be further opportunities to provide input prior to bringing a report with recommendations forward for consideration at Planning Committee, Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee and Council.

Engagement Overview

  • Discussion Paper and Questionnaire, public feedback: September – November 2015
  • Proposed preliminary draft recommendations released for comment: January 2016
  • Targeted engagement & discussion: April – July 2016
  • Release of draft study recommendations (circulation): Summer/Fall 2016
  • Staff report to Planning Committee and Council: Fall 2016

 Stay Tuned!

Release of the final draft study recommendations will be distributed in the late Spring 2016. To ensure you receive project updates, email to request to be added to the distribution list. 

If you have questions about the study or wish to comment, please contact:

Emily Davies, Planner

Planning and Growth Management Department
City of Ottawa
110 Laurier Ave West
Ottawa, ON K1P1J1
Tel: 613-580-2424 ext. 23463
Fax: 613-580-2459


Guiding Principles and Draft Recommendations Paper

Learn how the City is proposing to permit Coach Houses, small accessory dwelling units in the backyards of residential properties. Read the Report [PDF 1.088 MB] and the Results [ PDF 1.01 MB ]

You might be interested in:

For more information contact:

Emily Davies, Planner and Project Lead
City of Ottawa
Planning and Growth Management Department
613-580-2424 ext 23463

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