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Building bylaw changed

Home builders now allowed to live in one home on same property where they are constructing another

A zoning change approved by council Tuesday night will ensure homeowners who tear down their old homes won’t end up homeless during construction.

The bylaw amendment will allow more than one home on the same property, but only while a second home is in the process of being built.

The change was triggered by requests from the public.

“As Campbell River grows and evolves, many older, poor-quality houses are being torn down and replaced with new dwellings,” said Chris Osborne, city planner, in a report to council. “On larger lots, the new dwelling is sometimes constructed in an entirely different location within the lot. In a small number of these cases, the city has been approached by the owner asking if they can continue to reside in the old dwelling while the new one is being constructed.

“While this may seem a reasonable request, the current answer based on our existing bylaw is ‘no,’” Osborne added.

As of Tuesday, however, the answer is ‘yes.’

While allowing temporary dwellings was approved as a service to the community, Osborne said in speaking with other local governments that allow multiple homes on the same lot, he found the process is not without some risk.

“A provision could be subject to abuse,” Osborne warned council. “Ensuring and enforcing the subsequent demolition of the old dwelling once occupancy of the new is granted may provide difficult. Anecdotal evidence from other jurisdictions that have tolerated this process confirms that is so.

“There is also risk of increased nuisance to neighbouring properties during what can sometimes be a lengthy construction process if a site is crowded out with activity, construction and equipment,” Osborne added.

In an effort to thwart abuse of the process, the city will require a letter of credit or other security satisfactory to the city in the amount of $10,000 in the case of a manufactured home being removed, or $15,000 in all other cases.

Osborne said those figures are consistent with the amounts required by other municipalities and reflect the maximum likely legal costs to the municipality should the city be forced to take action to secure compliance.

To reduce the impact of noise, dust, and contractor parking on neighbouring homes, the provision will only apply to properties that are at least 1,000 square meters if zoned for just one home, and 2,000 square metres or greater in all other cases.

According to Osborne, other local governments that allow temporary second dwellings include the Cowichan Valley Regional District, which has had past issues with enforcement, the Comox Valley Regional District, Maple Ridge, Surrey, Central Saanich, and Courtenay.