The issue of secondary suites came up at Campbell River City Council on Monday, when the Coalition to End Homelessness wrote a letter to council asking them to extend their allowances to existing neighbourhoods and buildings.
The Coalition wrote the letter in May, asking council to consider revising bylaws to allow the suites in existing neighbourhoods or to consider a one-year pilot project to waive the fees and simplify the process to apply for the suites. Citing their 2019 public engagement on housing in partnership with the Strathcona Community Health Network, the Coalition’s letter found that people in the city want diverse, affordable housing with more regulations to encourage it and more infill and density to access transportation and amenities.
“A simple, initial way to address some of these concerns is to encourage secondary suites,” reads the letter. “This could provide additional financial support to locals who are already struggling in an incredibly costly and competitive housing market… It may also allow families and individuals who might not normally be able to afford to buy a home, the luxury to do so.”
Councillor Claire Moglove spoke to the issue, saying that she had spoken to the tourism advisory committee who said they were having difficulty finding staff due to a lack of housing.
A report on the zoning amendment option is coming from planning staff, who have been backlogged with other work. They are currently working on a Housing Growth Review report, and have secondary suites next on their work-plan.
The coalition also sent a letter in 2019 to council on the topic.
Councillor Charlie Cornfield said that he has “difficulty with the same people sending us the same request back and forth again, again and again.”
Mayor Andy Adams echoed Coun. Cornfield’s sentiment, saying that “it’s a squeaky wheel where you just keep asking, but I also think there’s another agenda at play.”
Coun. Cornfield also asked about the executive staff’s policy on choosing correspondence that comes to the council table, asking if it can be “given electronically so it doesn’t get put on the agenda unless someone requests it.”
Staff are reviewing their correspondence policy, which will be brought to council in the next few weeks.
Coun. Moglove moved to refer the Coalition’s May letter to staff to help with their upcoming report, but that was defeated with councillors Cornfield, Kerr, Dahl and Mayor Adams voting against it.
Later in the week at the Coalition to End Homelessness meeting, coordinator Stefanie Hendrickson updated the coalition of the city’s decision.
“What I’m having trouble with getting past is… the idea that the Coalition has an agenda and what’s inferred by that. We’re talking about something that’s a basic human right… what exactly is our agenda?” asked Don Kattler, who was elected as a new member of the coalition leadership team.
“The other piece is the reference to ‘why aren’t letters screened better?’ Is the city open to a discussion when statements are coming from council saying ‘letters should be screened better?’ That doesn’t sound to me like a council that is open to discussion,” Kattler continued.
“We certainly don’t have any hidden agenda at the coalition here, we just want to get people housed,” Hendrickson added. “It’s in the name, there’s no hidden agenda.”
UPDATE, 05/06: The headline in this story has been edited from it’s original version for the sake of clarity.