Make Wellington County Home

Attainable Housing in Wellington County

Landscape animation of different houses
Wellington County needs more housing options to support our community’s growth and prosperity.

Our housing isn’t keeping up with our growth.

Wellington County must grow under provincial legislation. We are welcoming new businesses, workers, and families. Young adults are choosing to stay here or move here. New Canadian families are joining us here. Older adults are retiring here.

This is contributing to a vibrant community. Growth strengthens our local economy, creates jobs and opportunities for everyone, adds volunteering capacity, and introduces more diversity to our shopping, dining, and neighbourhoods.

A growing community needs to ensure it provides a range of housing options to meet these needs. Right now, we don’t have enough of these options. Young people are struggling to find independent housing. New families can’t find reasonable rental units or starter homes. Retirees are having trouble downsizing. Employers with good jobs are struggling to attract workers. Our economy and wellbeing are being stifled by low housing stock.

We can improve our housing options in Wellington County.

As a community we can develop more attainable rental and ownership options including townhouses, stacked townhouses, small multi-unit buildings, condominiums, duplexes and triplexes, converted factories and more.

 Additional Residential Units (ARUs)

What is an ARU?

An Additional Residential Unit (ARU) is an accessory to a principal dwelling unit, located on the same property. ARUs can be connected to or detached from the principal home. 

Homeowners can choose to add to their existing properties: basement apartments, second or third suites, garage conversions, even smaller homes built on the property. They add to the rental inventory and often give homeowners a source of income.

Have you added an ARU to your home or property? We want to hear stories from Wellington County as part of an ongoing public awareness campaign around attainable housing. 

Tell your ARU Story

Are you interested in an ARU for your property?

Interested homeowners should start by consulting their local building authorities.

Why More Housing?

Five critical concerns if we do not have enough housing options:

  1. We can’t fill essential jobs that support us. Healthcare workers, long-term care home staff, restaurant and food employees, and workers in industries add millions to our local economy.
  2. Businesses struggle. Employers need to spend excessive time recruiting and supporting stressed employees who commute long distances or struggle financially due to high housing costs.
  3. Good people leave. Young adults who want to stay, new families hoping to build lives here, older adults who are downsizing or need new accommodations – all are at risk of leaving our community.
  4. Housing costs soar even more, further worsening the problem. Supply and demand economics are simple: low inventory + high demand = increasing costs.
  5. Our communities don’t thrive. Our economy will stagnate while our families, friends, and neighbours may require more social services, food security or poverty assistance, will volunteer less and have a harder time contributing to their community.

Community Stories

Documenting real housing challenges in Wellington County.
Kyle's Story
Bert and Louise's Story
TG Minto's Story

Attainable Housing FAQs

What is the County doing to address this?

  • Wellington County has amended its Official Plan to allow for Additional Residential Units (ARUs) and all County municipalities have also changed their bylaws to accommodate at least one additional rental unit on properties.
  • The County is currently reviewing and updating Official Plan policies to prepare for added growth and to ensure that the Plan is supporting healthy, compact and complete communities in Wellington County.
  • The County is undertaking a Municipal Comprehensive Review to provide recommendations on amendments that align with the Attainable Housing strategy and these imperatives.
  • The County meets regularly with developers and builders and is encouraging proposals that align with the goals of the Attainable Housing strategy.
Can I add rental housing to my home or property?

Yes. All County member municipalities have approved adding Additional Rental Units on existing properties. Exact allowances vary by municipality – start by consulting local building authorities in your municipality to get started. You can add a new income stream while helping solve an important issue.

Will different types of housing change the character in my neighbourhood?

Builders work with communities to introduce mixed housing designs that work with the character and heritage of the neighbourhoods. Both affordable and market-rate housing must meet the same restrictions and design standards of the neighbourhood and can be designed to fit in with the character of the area. 

Will rental properties in my neighbourhood be badly maintained and run down?

There is plenty of evidence here and in other communities that poorly maintained rental properties are rarely a concern: apartments and rental units typically have high upkeep and must comply with the same property standards bylaws as all homes. 

How can we keep the town I grew up with? Won’t a lot of new people change that?

  • Our neighbourhoods are already changing and together we can set the right tone for that change. Many municipal plans are in place to ensure that our natural environment, quiet pace, safe and welcoming community will not change as we grow. 
  • Often, the future occupants of new housing already live in the neighbourhood. They are people sharing an apartment with others or struggling to pay market rent by giving up meals or other essentials.
  • We need to attract people here to fill important jobs that help keep us safe, healthy, and living the lifestyle we desire. We don’t presently have housing to keep people in those jobs.
  • More diverse neighbourhoods have also been proven to add to the rich fabric of our community and do not lower property values or neighbourhood appeal.
Will new housing increase demands on our municipal services and make taxes go up?

Generally, higher-density housing needs less extensive infrastructure than new development – features like piped water, sewer services, schools and roads already exist when these properties are added to existing neighbourhoods. Also, higher-density development and infill can provide the larger customer base needed to reduce the per-resident cost of municipal services.

What about converting old buildings into new housing?

Absolutely – as a community we can explore how we re-use former institutional properties such as schools, hospitals, government buildings and places of worship, as well as re-develop vacant or abandoned commercial or industrial buildings and empty parking lots that often accompany these sites. These conversions can often be done with minimal changes to municipal infrastructure, bringing new rental or home ownership inventory, and new energy, to our neighbourhoods.

Won’t my property values go down with mixed housing nearby? Won’t crime go up?

This has not been experienced in Wellington County. Studies on affordable housing conclude that there is no impact on property values or crime rates when more diverse options are introduced to a neighbourhood. The Ontario Homecoming Coalition reviewed 26 studies and in 25 they concluded adding supportive housing had no impact on property values.

If you add too much housing, traffic and parking will just become a problem.

Typically, multiple-family dwellings are likely to attract residents with lower levels of car ownership. However, careful review of this is part of the development process: as with any new development, a higher density or infill-housing proposal must meet the municipality’s planning standards and variances to current standards require public input.
 We don’t want to deal with the construction chaos.
We need more housing – whether it is detached homes or multi-unit buildings, there will be construction, however developers follow high standards and work closely with local authorities to mitigate excessive noise or disruption.

Answers drawn from Ontario Human Rights Commission.

© 2023 County of Wellington, 74 Woolwich St. Guelph, Ontario N1H 3T9, T 519.837.2600, TF 1.800.663.0750, F 519.837.1909