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Windsor councillor to pitch ADU incentive program

CTV News

The province has set an ambitious target of building 1.5 million homes in the next decade and that includes 13,000 homes in Windsor alone.

A Windsor city councillor believes one way to help achieve that target is by giving homeowners incentives to build additional dwelling units (ADUs).

“That is a very ambitious target. So we need to look at all of the different tools that we could potentially have available to us in order for those to be able to meet those targets,” said Ward 9 Coun. Kieran McKenzie.

At the next council meeting on Monday, Feb. 13, McKenzie plans to ask a council question for city staff to investigate an ADU community improvement plan.

He wants staff to explore all the various tools, including forgivable loans, incremental tax grants and other incentives the city could provide in a CIP-type program to give residents financial help to build mother-in-law suites, basement rentals and detached tiny homes.

“This is just another one of those tools that the city can be a partner in trying to incentivize the development that are going to come forward from other proponents,” said McKenzie.

It’s an idea local realtor Rhys Trenhaile has been championing for years.

“Let’s get the Windsor people involved. Let’s get 10,000 Windsorites that own 10,000 homes to build ADUs,” Trenhaile told CTV previously. “Let’s reward them by giving them a big chunk of their tax payer dollars back to do that.”

Coun. McKenzie says the case to get more ADU’s built is an easy one.

For starters, building in established neighbourhoods utilizes existing infrastructure so instead of building out, people are building additional dwelling spaces where roads, sewers and utilities already exist.

McKenzie says it also potentially puts residents to work, putting less strain on the existing skilled labour pool.

“The ADU is another tool that we can use to increase the housing stock while at the same time, not putting as much additional pressure on the labour side of the construction industry,” he said.

Anyone curious about additional dwelling units now has access to a free online tool that helps users see the potential for detached additional dwelling units.

ADUSearch allows homeowners to look up their address and see if their yard meets municipal zoning and bylaw requirements for a detached ADU — or tiny home.

ADU Search is now available to 30 municipalities across the country, including in Windsor, Essex and Amherstburg.

“Is my property suitable? Can I build on my lot?” said Sarah Cipkar, the project co-lead for ADU Search. “We really help homeowners take that first step in the journey.”

The federal government provided the team with a $2.2 million grant from the Government of Canada and Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation’s Housing Supply Challenge to develop the software and roll it out to municipalities across the county.

Thirty Canadian municipalities have since been mapped and they’ve discovered nearly half of the 2.2 million lots are eligible for detached additional dwelling units.

“It’s about empowering residents to be part of the solution. This is about bringing residents into the fight and empowering them to be part of the solution,” said Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmierczyk, who said innovation is needed to tackle the housing crisis.

During a media event Friday, Cipkar told reporters the idea of an ADU CIP is a potential solution other municipalities are already investigating.

“Municipalities can play a role in providing those forgivable loans. And I think there’s some innovation that can definitely happen,” she said.

If the majority of council agrees with McKenzie’s council question, a report will come back in due time for consideration.