Council closes door on basement suite

Erickson Road resident's request for rezoning denied after neighbours lodge objection with City

City council has voted down a Campbell River man’s application to add a secondary suite to his home following complaints by several of his neighbours.

Jordan Stromquist and his wife Stephanie bought their home on Erickson Road in early March. The home is zoned as a single family dwelling but shortly after purchasing the house, the Stromquists decided they wanted to re-zone the property to add a basement suite.

“The basement is currently unfinished and our intention is to put in a legal secondary suite to rent out,” Stromquist said. “Benefits to the surrounding neighbourhood would be low impact densification as having a secondary suite would increase the rental housing stock without changing the building landscapes of houses in the area.”

But Stromquist’s neighbours disagreed.

Five emails were sent to the city in opposition and three neighbours spoke against the re-zoning at a public hearing May 25.

Ron Pallan and Treena Parker wrote in their letter to the city that they bought their home on the understanding that the neighbourhood was single family residential.

“We bought our property as a single family dwelling adjacent to several other single family dwellings,” they wrote. “We would not have purchased our property had there been homes zoned for more than one family in the immediate vicinity.”

Neighbours Norm and Phyllis Ford wrote that they were concerned that adding a rental suite would alter the property values of nearby homes.

“We feel that the change in zoning would have an adverse effect on our property values and also the area has enough traffic without adding another residence to our neighbourhood,” wrote the Fords. “We do not feel it is fair to change the zoning in midstream.”

At the public hearing held in May at City Hall, Michelle Sichewski said she also was concerned about an increase in traffic, and she was worried about the type of tenants that may move in.

Despite a recommendation from city staff to approve the re-zoning, council, at last week’s Tuesday council meeting, voted to deny the re-zoning application.

“I think we heard from the neighbouring residents that they did not support this and the people that did move into that area moved in under the assumption it was an R-1 (single family) zoning and to change it now, again it’s against the neighbours’ wishes,” said Coun. Larry Samson. “I believe it should stay R-1.”

Coun. Charlie Cornfield agreed.

“I put a lot of credibility on the neighbours around there whose properties are going to be affected,” he said.

Stromquist, though, said a few opposing letters to the city is not a fair representation of the neighbourhood.

“There are others in a 100-metre radius that do support it but they’re not here tonight and they didn’t write letters,” Stromquist said during the May public hearing. “Usually if you’re not opposed to something, you’re not going to make an effort to come down here on a Monday night.”

Stromquist also suggested that since the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board doesn’t keep statistics on whether property values do in fact go down after a change in zoning, there’s no proof adding a suite would affect his neighbours’ property values.

As for some of the neighbours’ concerns about increased traffic, Stromquist said that Erickson is already a busy street.

“I don’t think one extra vehicle is going to make a difference,” he said.

Still, council defeated the motion to approve the re-zoning with councillors Samson, Cornfield, Michele Babchuk and Marlene Wright opposed.

Samson, however, did acknowledge Stromquist for his efforts.

“I do want to thank the proponent, he did a lot of work.”