Lantzville District Hall. (News Bulletin file)

Lantzville council adopts policy permitting secondary suites

One councillor who opposed policy calls for ‘suite zones’ in the district instead

Lantzville will allow secondary suites and carriage homes.

During a council meeting on Feb. 10, Lantzville councillors voted 3-2 in favour of adopting a zoning bylaw that permits secondary suites and carriage homes throughout the district.

Secondary suites are technically not permitted anywhere within the District of Lantzville under existing zoning; however, according to a recent staff report, there are “numerous” existing secondary suites and carriage homes within the community and they “may not” meet the provincial building code.

The report goes on to note that any new secondary suites and carriage homes built in British Columbia after February must comply with local bylaws and the provincial code.

During the Feb. 10 meeting, Coun. Karen Proctor told other members of council she felt the policy “will definitely get us started in the right direction.”

However, Coun. Ian Savage said he couldn’t support the policy because there has been a lack of public consultation on the matter.

“All the current suite owners should have a say,” he said. “Those considering putting in a suite should have a say and all other residents should have a say as well.”

Savage encouraged councillors to look at other municipalities’ policies on secondary suites and carriage homes, explaining that other municipalities have taken longer to approve similar policies. He also expressed concerns that new subdivisions could be filled with secondary suites and carriage homes and that they could cause problems for the district.

“It has caused problems elsewhere and we simply don’t know if we are facing that here,” Savage said.

The solution, according to Savage, is to create “suite zones” in Lantzville, which would limit secondary suites and carriage homes to specific areas of the community.

“To me the obvious solution is to create a suite zone like Kelowna has and measure the results,” Savage said.

The City of Kelowna allows secondary suites to be constructed in “most residential zones other than townhomes and multi-family complexes,” according to that city’s website, whereas West Kelowna only allows secondary suites to be constructed on properties that have specific zoning designations such as small parcel, country residential agricultural, rural resource and single-detached, according to the municipality’s website.

Coun. Will Geselbracht acknowledged that there are secondary suites in Lantzville that have gone unregulated for years but said he hasn’t heard of any complaints regarding them.

“I think most people subscribe to the good neighbourhood policy of keeping the cars off the highway, off the driving paths of other neighbours’ properties, of keeping the noise levels down,” he said.

Geselbracht called the proposed policy “well-reasoned” and thoughtful.

“It doesn’t come down with the hammer,” he said. “It’s more of a velvet glove that we’ve got three different categories of suites. We’ll have suites that are here and they can stay here as long as there’s no complaints about them.”

Coun. Jamie Wilson said there is new development coming in Lantzville and it is likely that some of those properties will have secondary suites. He also said the district could benefit from having secondary suites in new development due to assessed property values. Wilson also said he doubts that Lantzville will see subdivisions filled with secondary suites.

Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain said he couldn’t support the policy at this time but felt it was a great start. He said many residents in Lantzville want to see regulation around secondary suites but council isn’t involving them in that process.

“We’re not allowing them to have a voice or inviting them into the process of developing this regulation,” he said. “I don’t know if all people are going to be terribly happy about carriage houses.”

Swain and Savage were the only two members of council to vote against the policy. 
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