City bylaw upsets neighbours of two-storey garage suite

March 7, 2013 - 2:37pm
Terry Stodler looks out his front window from his house on Lake Crescent in Saskatoon, Karin Yeske/News Talk Radio
Terry Stodler looks out his front window from his house on Lake Crescent in Saskatoon, Karin Yeske/News Talk Radio

Some people living in Grosvenor Park in Saskatoon are upset with the city for allowing a two-storey garage suite to be built in their neighbourhood.

The lot on Lake Crescent is zoned as R1, which means it's a large lot, one unit residential district. Stand alone garage suites are not permitted anywhere in the city. In this case, the new garage has been attached to the main house via the roof in the form of a breezeway.

Terry Stodler has lived across the street for eight years and has concerns about the structure. He said before he realized what it was going to be, it was too late.

"It is an eyesore when I look out my window-my front window. I don't think I'm going to enjoy having people sitting on a deck looking into my house."

The three-door garage is roughly 1,000 sq. ft. The second-storey suite is 700 sq. ft., the largest allowable size, and features a balcony.
Ron LeFrancois owns the property and said he built the garage for his own car hobbies. The upstairs rental suite is intended to pay for the cost of the building.

"It's no different than somebody walking on the street and looking into your house. If people want to look into your house, they are going to look into your house," said LeFrancois, adding he has consulted with architects and the city to not only abide by the rules but make the structure fit in.

"We tried to keep it matching and looking proper. It's not just a big ugly Quonset," he said.

"We've made sure it is all architecturally correct. I spent a lot of money on the drawings and making the roofline a cottage-style roof to match the house."

Stodler is concerned the two-storey structure stands out in a primarily one-storey neighbourhood. It's something he's worried will affect the price of his home.

"This is a nice neighbourhood. If you're going to start allowing everybody to put up a mother-in-law suite on top of a massive garage in this neighbourhood, house prices in this neighbourhood are going to start to deteriorate," said Stodler.

"It's difficult because Lake Crescent is supposed to be a heritage crescent. The bylaws in this city are so loose and so unenforceable that if you put enough pressure on the building department you can pretty get anything you want approved," he said.

Ward 6 Councillor Charlie Clark admits there is an inconsistency and said the problem lies with the bylaw. He said this situation, along with other examples, are motivating a change in the bylaw to make it more specific to avoid these types of problems.

Despite the house and garage being on separate foundations, they are considered "attached." Clark said he sees that as a problem.

"By just doing a simple, small attachment you can create something that's so much bigger," he said.

"By creating this sort of link-- even if it's not a really substantive link to the house-- and then by being able to build such a large structure, it's out of whack with what's reasonable in terms of a structure in the yard."

The city is working with a consultant to bring forward a set of recommendations that will deal with infill development. For example, the consultant will look at the size and orientation of the building, what materials are used, and how it sits on the property.

The consultant will present preliminary recommendations to the public on March 14 at 7 p.m. at the Bessborough Hotel. Tim Stewart, manager of development review with the City of Saskatoon, said the city has seen a variety of issues relating to infill development.

"In terms of its character and fitting into existing neighbourhoods. The other issue that has come up in the city and is being addressed as part of this study deals with allowing garden suites and garage suites," he said, adding there is a demand for garage suites in the community because it allowsfor greater densities within the city without changing its character.

"There are certainly opportunities and development that takes place at the fringe and at the edges of the city. But there are also opportunities for development within the built up part of the city," he said.


Several people have approached LeFrancois, who lives in the house behind the new property, voicing their opinions.

"We've had several come by, 'Oh, who is building this? We want one.' You know, it's all people in the neighbourhood," he said.

"We've had neighbours who think it is out of context for the neighbourhood. Yet my own house on 14th Street is 6,400 square feet. That's how the neighbourhood is. It is big lots."

Stodler understands the housing crisis in the city but believes similar units would destroy heritage neighbourhoods like Grosvenor Park.

"If they are going to let this stuff go ahead, then I think you'v

e got to take a look at how much my property value will drop. I think I need a massive adjustment in my taxes. If another one were to go up in this area, I think my house would go up for sale pretty damn quick. I think I'd get out of here," said Stodler.

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