Backyard Studios and Unanswered Questions
It's been a busy couple of weeks at city hall. But I took particular notice of a recent move by Councillor Adam Vaughan, calling on the city to introduce or reconsider its stance on backyard studios. As part of his move, he invited Hy Rosenberg from BlueSky MOD (a company that manufactures them) to give a presentation on the topic.
Bluesky offers an ecological approach to the backyard studio debate. The company's current model is powered by "off-the-grid" and other eco-friendly technologies, such as solar panels and composting toilets. It's also manufactured from predominantly local and recycled materials. The pre-fabricated structure was originally designed for rural environments, but recently the company has been attracting attention from city enthusiasts - like Councillor Vaughan.
While I think the idea of allowing residents to construct backyard studios has some merit, there are quite of few problems that need to be addressed. First, what I like most about the idea of backyard studios is their ability to increase population density, without having to depend solely on massive condo developments. But, Councillor Vaughan is adamantly opposed to this, specifying that the studios should not be used as granny suites or rental units.
There's also a whole host of other issues that need to be dealt with. Should the city force them to be connected to the grid in case they do lose power? How should they be taxed? Can the studio and the main property be owned by multiple parties? Can they be multiple levels?
It's these problems that Councilor Vaughan passes over. He recently admitted that the plan is "fraught with difficulties", and went on to say "I'm not trying to create separate environments in that regard, but I don't think we should be outlawing all options without exploring them."
Like I said earlier, I support the idea, it's a great way for the city to increase its revenue base without having to vastly alter the downturn (specifically the more neighbourhood-oriented areas) landscape. I wish that Councillor Vaughan would have dealt with some of these problems before taking the proposition to the city's Planning and Growth Management Committee.
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