Skip to content

Mayor 'beyond happy' to see end of exclusionary zoning

New rules proposed for driveway widths, minimum parking requirements, use of shipping containers for storage and more in first comprehensive zoning bylaw review since 1995
home construction
File photo

Exclusionary zoning may be coming to an end in Guelph, making way for a wider variety of housing types in low density zones and “small-scale convenience commercial” spaces in residential neighbourhoods.

That’s among the key changes included in a draft comprehensive zoning bylaw review presented to council on Wednesday evening and it’s something Mayor Cam Guthrie is “beyond happy” about.

"If we are to tackle the housing crisis we are in ... we need to start doing this," he told GuelphToday, noting it would help spur creation of the "missing middle" in housing options. "Ending exclusionary zoning as it's been is absolutely important."

The current comprehensive zoning bylaw, which sets rules for properties throughout the city, was put in place in 1995, though it’s been amended many times in the years since.

A final staff recommendation on a new bylaw is expected during the first part of next year, following review and consideration of public comments and council input from this latest phase in the years-long process.

The purpose of an updated bylaw, staff explained, is to align the rules with provincial legislation changes, pre-zone lands for development in order to streamline the approval process, reduce the number of site-specific exemptions being sought by developers and make the document more reader friendly.

“The zoning bylaw is outdated,” commented Krista Walkey, the city’s general manager of planning and building services, who received a number of chuckles and smiles when she pointed out it makes specific allowances for video rental outlets.

“We need to plan for tomorrow, not today,” she added. “A plan is supposed to be about the future.”

Asked how she would describe the difference between the current bylaw and the proposed new one, Walkey said, “I think it’s pushing toward radical but we’re not quite there.”

Other major rule changes in the draft bylaw include limiting driveway widths to 50 per cent of lot frontage or five metres (whichever is less), with six-metre wide driveways allowed on 12-metre wide lots, and new limits on the use of shipping containers for storage (one per 0.4-hectares, with a maximum of four per property).

Also included is a recommendations to allow apartment buildings to offer one parking space per unit, as well as 0.25 visitor spaces for the first 20 units and 0.15 visitor spots for every additional unit. That’s a decrease of half a space for each of the first 20 units and 0.25 spots for units beyond that limit, though visitor parking is included in those calculations.

The proposed shipping container rules would have a “devastating impact” on many small business owners in the city, council heard from Craig Dool of Dool Holding Corporation, which rents them out to a variety of trades people and others to store equipment and materials.

“There are hundreds of people, if not thousands who rely on these,” he said.  “We’re talking about a pretty big impact on the working class.”

The added expense of building brick and mortar storage facilities or renting them from places that are less convenient or accessible could push people out of the city or force them shut down all together, Dool said.

“With the last two years, most of these places are lucky to have the doors open.”

Erin Caton, a member of the city’s Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) and a Ward 1 councillor candidate in the upcoming municipal election, urged council to go beyond minimum provincial requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

She called for increased accessible parking requirements and for the AAC to review the draft comprehensive zoning bylaw in order to provide a recommendation to council.

Hugh Whiteley urged council to protect river corridors and public access to them, with allowance for boardwalks and bridges within established floodplains.

Council members also provided a number of things they’d like city staff to consider ahead of making a final recommendation. They are:

Coun. Bob Bell

  • Further examination of proposed rules around the use of shipping containers for storage
  • Allowing bridges and boardwalks to be build in river floodplains
  • Pulling parking and driveway width changes from the comprehensive review to be dealt with separately

Coun. Dan Gibson

  • Making current driveway width rules permanent, with a further looks at widths

Coun. Leanne Caron

  • Communal parking as an alternative to parking in front of individual units
  • Establish a new view corridor from the former Turfgrass Institute building on Victoria road to the Basilica of Our Lady in the downtown core

Coun. Phil Allt

  • Allowing agriculture within the natural heritage system
  • Reconsideration of rules regarding the use of shipping containers for storage
  • An opportunity for the AAC to review and comment on the draft comprehensive bylaw review document

Coun. Mike Salisbury

  • Use of shipping containers as architecture and the impact of proposed new rules
  • Making current driveway width rules permanent

Coun. June Hofland

  • Further public engagement on the issue of shipping containers used for storage
  • Allowing bridges and boardwalks along rivers
  • Increasing the number of required accessible parking spaces

Coun. Cathy Downer

  • Defined differences between small apartments and conversion of houses to include three units
  • Increased accessible parking
  • Review of the draft rule changes by the AAC

Coun. Rodrigo Goller

  • Regulation of on-street parking rules throughout the city
  • Review of the draft rule changes by the AAC
  • Minimum green space requirements to support tree growth
  • Rules for converting older homes into duplexes and triplexes
  • Allowing bridges and boardwalks along rivers, along with increased opportunities for public access to views
  • Elimination of the cap on the number of shipping containers that can be used for storage, perhaps with a permitting system

Coun. James Gordon

  • Review of the draft rule changes by the AAC
  • Allowing bridges and boardwalks along rivers, along with increased opportunities for public access to views

Coun. Christine Billings

  • Definition of outdoor storage to include the use of shipping containers
  • Reconsider a proposal to end approved minor variances

Mayor Cam Guthrie

  • Allow home-based businesses to use portions of garages and carports, as well as accessory buildings
  • Review the use of existing bicycle parking infrastructure
  • As-of-right status for affordable and supportive housing projects, meaning they'd be generally permitted in specific zones and wouldn't require council approval
  • Maintaining existing parking requirements for developments along Gordon Street, between Stone Road and Vaughan Street

Coun. Dominique O’Rourke

  • Update off-street parking study for large multi-residential developments
  • Maintaining existing parking requirements for developments along Gordon Street, between Stone Road and Vaughan Street
  • Maintaining existing visitor parking requirements throughout the city
  • Maintaining parking requirements for medical and veterinary offices along intensification corridors
  • Review of the draft rule changes by the AAC
  • Allow people to park on paved stones next to their driveway that are 1.5 metres or less from foundations
  • Eliminate requirement for garages to be flush with the front of homes
  • Bridges and boardwalks in natural heritage systems


Verified reader

If you would like to apply to become a verified commenter, please fill out this form.

Richard Vivian

About the Author: Richard Vivian

Richard Vivian is an award-winning journalist and longtime Guelph resident. He joined the GuelphToday team as assistant editor in 2020, largely covering municipal matters and general assignment duties
Read more