Public input on housing bylaws completed

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, November 21 2017

The Gabriola Island Local Trust Committee has completed the public process on housing bylaws 292/293, and can consider giving the bylaws a third reading at the next LTC meeting, scheduled for December 14, 2017.

Public input on the bylaws is closed now that the public hearing has been held. LTC Chair Laura Busheikin stressed at the end of the hearing on Thursday night last week that as tempting as it may be to talk to either of the Gabriola trustees about the proposed bylaws, any further commentary should be through Trust staff.

There was plenty of information provided by staff and members of the public at the November 16 Community Information Meeting and the following public hearing. Given that, both Trustee Heather O’Sullivan and Trustee Melanie Mamoser asked for staff reports to come forward on December 14, rather than proceeding with third reading that night.

Former Island Trustee Gisele Rudischer suggested that if the Trustees were going to proceed with reversing the prohibition on bathrooms and kitchens in accessory buildings, they only allow that to be done in one accessory building per property. 

Bylaws allow up to three accessory buildings on all residential lots on Gabriola, and with the current wording in the proposed bylaws, all three buildings could potentially have bathrooms and kitchens installed.

Mamoser asked that staff draft language which could be used to amend proposed bylaw 293 (Land Use Bylaw) to limit the number of accessory buildings which could have bathrooms and kitchens to one per lot.

Within the proposed bylaws, Trustees are proposing that a covenant be put in place by homeowners - once they have built a secondary dwelling - stating that there will not be any further dwellings built on the lot.

As critics pointed out, if a future LTC does decide to allow more accessory dwellings on properties, those properties which have covenants on them would be at a disadvantage compared to the other properties in their zonings.

Trustees asked staff to draft language to amend the portion of the bylaw that requires a covenant be signed when a secondary suite is built.

Members of the Gabriola Housing Society asked Trustees to consider amending the definition of affordable housing to include a calculation based on the median income of Gabriolans, rather than saying that affordable housing is housing which costs less than 30 per cent of the homeowner’s income.

Trustees asked staff to amend the project charter to include a housing first policy and a review of the definition of “affordable housing.”

Both Mamoser and O’Sullivan expressed frustration with some of the Agricultural Land Commission and changes happening to a third dwelling being allowed.

Staff confirmed that current ALC policy would require that any third dwelling on land in the Agricultural Land Reserve would require the property to have farm status.

Current ALC policy will only allow secondary suites in accessory buildings if the buildings were constructed prior to 2016. Otherwise the third dwelling has to be a manufactured home.

O’Sullivan said she is “super frustrated with the ALC regulation. The way it works is that someone could build permanent housing, and then be forced to evict their tenants [if the property loses farm status].

“I’m not there yet. I can’t make up my mind about how I feel about this ALC provision. In all honesty I think the ALC provision is flawed and yet there is nothing we can do about it.”

In all, the proposed bylaws, if passed, will see thirty changes made to the Gabriola Land Use Bylaw.

Key changes are:

• Regulations to permit secondary suites in lieu of accessory cottages.

• Allow home occupations accessory to any dwelling (to a total maximum floor area for the lot).

• Remove regulations prohibiting toilets, bathrooms and cooking facilities in an accessory building.

• Expanding the accessory cottage regulations for lots over five acres in size to instead be allowed a secondary suite (instead of the cottage) within primary buildings or accessory buildings.

Within the proposed bylaws, the secondary suite/dwelling can only be 40 per cent of the total living space if located in the primary dwelling, up to a maximum size of 968 square feet. If located as a stand-alone cottage or as part of an accessory building, the secondary dwelling can be up to 968 square feet in size.

Only a proportion of the building in options five and six can be the suite (up to 968 square feet).

Secondary suites are for residential use, and any use for overnight accommodation on less than a monthly basis for monetary gain is prohibited unless authorized by a temporary use permit.

A covenant would need to be signed prohibiting the registration under the Strata Property Act or Land Title Act which would result in the secondary suite being a separate lot.