Hamilton City Hall in February 2022 Credit: Joey Coleman

Hamilton’s Committee of Adjustment (CoA) approved five of six secondary dwelling unit (SDUs) applications at this week’s meeting.

All six applications were supported by the City’s planning staff.

Ward 6 Councillor Tom Jackson, who opposes SDUs in what he refers to as stable neighbourhoods, asked the CoA to deny an SDU application in Ward 6 at 131 Winchester Blvd.

The other five approved SDU applications were: 77 West 4th Street, 101 Weir Street, 37 Paradise Road South, 478 John Street North, and 28 Arthur Street North.

One CoA member opposed the SDU on Paradise Road.

Ward 8 Councillor John-Paul Danko wrote a letter opposing the SDU on West 4th, writing, “77 West 7th [sic] St. is part of the Bonnington neighbourhood which already suffers from an overrepresentation of converted single family home rental properties.” Danko did not attend the video conference meeting.

131 Winchester Blvd

City staff supported the backyard detached SDU application. The proposed separation between the primary residence and the proposed SDU was 4.1 metres, whereas the SDU bylaw requires a separation of 7.5 metres.

The CoA denied the application stating this was too much of a change to be acceptable.

“Community voices again, have spoken loudly,” stated Clr Jackson to the CoA. “It takes a lot for citizens everyday citizens to appear before a committee of Council such as this which you are appointed by Council.”

“Again, going from one unit to three on the same property that traditionally was a single family home for decades, in my humble opinion is over intensification and who knows the three may even lead to more and in my humble opinion, that’s way over intense for this property, and overall altering the character of the neighbourhood,” Jackson stated.

Nearby residents shared their opposition, some of it grounded in concerns about change and others about property standards due to existing issues with the rental property.

“I feel this is a jump in the “proverbial rabbit hole” to alter our city and community into another ‘Toronto'”, wrote Cindy Gaston.

“Please don’t allow this variance to happen, not at this property, not at other properties in the future,” wrote City of Hamilton staff member Rebecca Tait using her official City account. “As a homeowner on the mountain, I already see homes around me turning into duplexes and issues this creates.”

Neighbours stated the basement unit is presently being used as an AirBnB.

CoA Member Laverne Gaddye confirmed it was being used for short-stay rentals when he visited the site.

Gaddye says he spoke to a person having a smoke outside the basement unit. “I said to him, do you rent the basement? And he said to me, no, we don’t rent it. This is an AirBnB.”

Property owner Michael Sifontes, who describes himself as a “Home Buyer” responded to neighbour comments in his own letter to the COA.

He objected to being referred to as an “out of towner” because he states his hometown is Burlington. His letter was signed using his Toronto address.

There were letters in support of the SDU, all of which were from residents in other areas of Hamilton.

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First published: April 28, 2022
Last edited: April 28, 2022
Author: Joey Coleman
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