Say Hello To The Detached Condo
Is It A Detached? Is It A Condo?
Make way for the newest housing type to hit the GTA: the detached home condo.
Vaughan city staff and councillors performed some planning gymnastics recently when they approved a new project in the historic village of Kleinburg — by rewriting the definition of “detached home” in order to give the development a green light.
The decision, which went against the wishes of dozens of Vaughan residents, has sparked fears that the new interpretation will set a precedent and could change the face of the city.
“It’s sad, because there are very few towns in Ontario that have this magical feeling about them,” said resident Frank Fallico, one of the Kleinburg residents who have been vocally opposed to the project. “It’s unfortunate that one project comes in, after decades of people protecting a community, and changes what’s acceptable in terms of development. It’s not only a slippery slope, but it’s also damaging to the heritage of this city,” he said.
According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., a “detached home is a building containing only one dwelling unit, which is completely separated on all sides from any other dwelling or structure.”
It can include link homes, where “two units may share a common basement wall but are separated above grade.”
The new development of 28 homes, 1.8 metres apart, will be built on a lot that currently houses three homes. They will look detached at street level, but will be linked by a condo-style parking lot underneath.
In its definition, the city, however, is not calling the property “linked.” Rather, they have changed it to say:
“The definition of detached dwelling is being amended on a site-specific basis to permit detached dwellings at-grade that are attached to an underground parking structure,” said Mauro Peverini, director of development planning for the City of Vaughan, in an email to the Star.
“The only physical connection between dwellings is the underground parking structure that will not be visible above ground level,” Peverini said.
But by using a definition that has never been seen in the GTA before, some residents say the discussion and promotion around the project, being developed by SkyHomes Corp., has been confusing and misleading.
“You’re telling the neighbourhood you are building single-detached condominium dwellings. But that’s contradictory,” said Fallico.
A large development application sign for the Park Lane Village project calls the homes “single-detached residential condominium dwellings.” The signs that have been up around the village for months promote them as “detached home with condo style living” and “majestic singles with private underground double car garage” for $2-million and upwards.
Online, however, there is some clarification. One asterisk informs buyers that these “singles” are actually luxury “homes that are attached underground at garages.” And the “private underground garage?” The fine print says the garage is for all Park Lane Village residents, though each owner will have personal double-car parking with direct elevator access to their home.
SkyHomes Corp. did not respond to multiple requests from the Star for comment.
In the staff report, the city admits the development proposal didn’t originally fit into the requirements for what is permitted in the famous heritage district, which is limited only to construction of “low-rise residential buildings up to three storeys in height, situated on a single lot and not attached to any other residential building.”
But the city felt the submission from the developer for this unique condo-detached-home hybrid “maintains the intent of a detached residential dwelling,” and recommended its approval.
Local residents, however, say the project failed to meet some of the other requirements necessary to build in the heritage district.
Members of the Kleinburg and Area Ratepayers’ Association took exception with the consolidation of land to build the new subdivision, height requirements, parking requirements, and setbacks that were completely ignored to see the project proceed, said local resident David Brand.
He said the approval for this project disregards the official plan for the village — and paves the way for future developments in the area to do the same.
But the implications go beyond the village, he says. Residents, and politicians, believe the new definition will also “undermine” the city’s latest infill policies, “which were designed to protect established neighbourhoods from incompatible development.”
Local councillor Marilyn Iafrate admits this development is bound to have implications across the city.
“Next person, next development, anyone in Vaughan, could point to this project, and say you gave it to them there,” said Iafrate, the lone vote against the development project. She pushed for the development to have a clear construction plan, given the unusual topography of the area.
“This type of development is in the middle of an established residential neighbourhood … but now you have opened up the doors to have this everywhere,” she said.
But Ward 2 councillor Tony Carella, who voted in favour of the development, says the new definition is “no big deal.”
“Intensification is having a humongous impact on things, and the fact that a new housing type is being created, it doesn’t strike me as terribly strange,” he said. “At least this will preserve the feel of the neighbourhood.”
He admits that when he first saw the project, he “didn’t understand it” — especially in terms of parking. “I don’t quite understand how it’s going to function, but I’m not buying there, and the people who are will make that determination for themselves,” he said.
Frank Clayton, with the centre for Urban Research and Land Development at Ryerson University, calls the project “creative.”
“This is quite innovative, from an urban planning point of view,” he said. “This is a unique way to get townhouse density, but you are still giving people a single detached home, which many prefer,” he said, adding this is the first time he’s heard of this definition for a “detached home” in the GTA.
Real estate lawyer Bob Aaron said this type of housing is new to him, too. While he’s dealt with legal issues around the disclosure of link homes — during purchase or sale, he says in cases like this case, the linkage of the homes, through the basement condo garage, would likely have to be disclosed upfront.
Fallico says he’s noticed new signage for the development calling the homes “condo singles,” since it was approved. “Now that they are going into the selling of them they are labeling them correctly,” he said.
“The whole point of the application process is to give the community a chance to know what’s being proposed so everyone has a clear idea and can have a voice.”
He says, in this case, that simply didn’t happen.
Source: Noor Javed With The Star