Allow suites in lieu for all

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News Editor

Monday, June 3 2013

The concept of allowing secondary suites in lieu of secondary sub-700 square feet cabins should be expanded to every property on Gabriola which currently has the legal potential to have a secondary cabin.

Two weeks ago, Trustees Gisele Rudischer and Sheila Malcolmson both agreed to have staff explore allowing for secondary suites on properties zoned agricultural. The catch was the properties would need to be agricultural, and already have potential for a secondary dwelling. Under current zoning, the only time this is allowed is if a property is over 5 acres in size, and the secondary dwelling has to be under 700 square feet.

Granted - part of the reason such suites are encouraged by the Agricultural Land Commission is to ensure there is sufficient housing for staff on farms.

On Gabriola, the concept should be expanded to all properties, if only to ensure there is sufficient affordable housing for staff for all small businesses on the island. 

We’re an island. Every business is interrelated. Whether those businesses are agricultural in nature, or a pub trying to find staff, if the housing isn’t there for those who cannot afford to rent or purchase an entire home, we should be doing what we can to make some available. It’s not an increase in density of what we would already allow and it won’t put more pressure on septic or water than is already allowed.

The door on secondary suites doesn’t need to be thrown wide open, but if suites are to be allowed in lieu of secondary dwellings on one type of zoning, the same should be done on all others.