Re: "Densification destroys neighbourhoods: Day," News, Sept. 28.
I was disappointed to see this headline. In this article, city council hopeful Carol Day is quoted as taking issue with coach houses and granny flats on single-family lots. The article implies that secondary suites, regardless of type, put pressure on community services such as schools. My experience as a renter is that this is not the case.
A few years ago, as a young professional, I accepted a transfer to a community on the outskirts of Toronto. Knowing that my new office location might soon be moving, I decided to rent a home instead of purchasing. As commercial rental units were in short supply in my community, I chose to rent a basement apartment in an older neighbourhood close to my workplace. This allowed me to avoid a 30-minute drive to the next closest community.
In Richmond, many homes that were built for large families are now housing retired empty nesters. Allowing homeowners with extra space in their house or yard to build a small rental unit does not change the character of a neighbourhood, nor does it put pressure on schools and services. Homeowners are careful about whom they select as tenants, and it is rare to see more than one person in a unit. After all, tenants are sharing a yard, a driveway, and often even a hot water tank with their landlords.
Allowing secondary suites is very unlikely to result in a big increase in school-aged population. What it can do, however, is ease the pressure on the road and bridge systems because people can find more housing options in their chosen neighbourhoods.
Secondary suites within single-family homes have been allowed in Richmond since 2007, and they provide housing options that would otherwise not exist. Coach houses and granny flats are a new option in a limited number of neighbourhoods. I sincerely hope readers will consider such options with an open mind. Everyone needs a place to live.