Housing Bylaw requires we trust and enable islanders

Editorial

Tuesday, November 14 2017

The people who operate illegal dwellings on Gabriola are going to do it regardless of what the bylaws allow.

This includes installing kitchens and bathrooms in accessory dwellings, no matter what the well-intended but mis-guided “bathroom bylaw” of 2008 may say.

 The ones missing out are the people who want to operate above the board, within the legal framework of our Land-Use Bylaw and Official Community Plan.

Not everyone wanting a secondary kitchen needs it for ‘commercial’ grade. What many need  - and this was argued ad naseum in 2008 and 2009 - is a bathroom or kitchen which is built for the home-based business people want to run on their property in an accessory building.

Consider how many artisans could increase their production if they could have a workshop with all the necessary plumbing instead of trying to do it in their kitchen crammed between breakfast, supper, and the next breakfast.

The illegal dwellings are already operating. Those who fear a sudden expansion of illegal dwellings on Gabriola might as well be out in the streets right now with binoculars and notepad in hand.

What we’re lacking in is bylaws which make the assumption that people want to work within the confines of what is allowed. We need to stop worrying about putting up barriers, and start worrying about setting up opportunities for people to have an income generated at home.

Bottom line: these changes are bringing in a zero increase in density. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. 

Upside: we might actually see an increase in both housing and economic opportunities on Gabriola due to these first phase changes.

Downside: we’re barely scraping the surface. As the Trustees have pointed out, this is low-hanging fruit. Expanding existing permitted uses only for those lots which can already have two (or three) dwellings on a property.

And returning home owners’ right to have modern plumbing in accessory buildings.