Today, the City of Mississauga announced the newest step in their Housing Action Plan: free design plans for garden suites.

The program is meant to kill two birds with one stone. On the city level, it moves the municipality closer to achieving the goals laid out in its action plan (getting more homes built, streamlining building approvals, and making homes more affordable), while for individuals already grappling with high housing prices, costs are reduced.

“Housing is a top priority and these plans are one more way that we’re helping to make it easier to get building,” said Andrew Whittemore, Commissioner of Planning and Building, in a release.

On the individual level, the free plans provide both homeowners, and those looking for a home, with more options. “[Garden suites] are a good option for homeowners who want to downsize, need a separate space for family members or who want a rental unit for extra income,” said the new release. They also help cut building costs since “the pre-approved plans, which can be downloaded from the City’s website, help residents save time and money as they won’t need to hire a designer to draw custom plans.” It should be mentioned, however, that construction costs will still fall to the homeowner.

Now for the plans.

Residents can choose from one of two options:

  • Open-concept studio at 430 square feet (40 square metres)
  • One-bedroom suite at 600 square feet (55 square metres)

Artist rendering of the studio garden suite

Artist rendering of the one-bedroom garden suite

The layout of the units cannot be changed, but residents are free to customize everything from the paint and plumbing fixtures to the flooring and exterior siding, according to the release. Both models come self-sufficient with a kitchen space and three-piece washroom.

Located within existing properties, garden suites also have an intrinsic space-saving quality that kills a separate, third bird. Since they don’t take up additional land, these builds can reduce urban sprawl by encouraging more compact, walkable communities, while contributing to gentle density: bringing people to areas where schools, parks, community centres, and other types of infrastructure is already in place, says the release.

Whittemore says garden suites also stand to help with population decline in certain areas. “Like other maturing cities, we’re seeing major growth in our urban areas — such as our downtown core — but many of our neighbourhoods are shrinking. Allowing more housing types — such as fourplexes, triplexes and garden suites — is a good way to reinvigorate communities experiencing population decline.”

The program is a big step forwards for Mississauga. "We're looking forward to processing building permits quickly so homeowners can get building! This is a very exciting step in the right direction, and it's just the beginning," Whittemore told STOREYS.