The City of Campbell River is continuing to explore its options in terms of making secondary suites more available to more home owners and relieve some stress on the local rental vacancy and affordability issue.
Council passed first reading of a bylaw in July that could see secondary suites allowed within all single-family homes in the community, provided they meet the requirements for a legal suite: proper parking, road setbacks, etc.
Back at the beginning of November, city council asked staff to look at how other B.C. communities approach the issue, and that report was brought back on Monday.
Forty communities were examined and placed in three categories: whether they allow suites in all single-family dwellings, allowed them in the most predominant residential zone or whether they are not permitted at all or confined to minority zoning designations within the community, such as Campbell River’s current approach of only permitting suites in only R-1A, R-SD, R-1B, RM-1 and RM-2 zones.
During their research, staff found that the wide majority of communities studied allow secondary suites more broadly than is the case in Campbell River.
Coquitlam, Delta, Nanaimo, North Vancouver, Chilliwack, New Westminster, Vernon, Langford, Penticton, Port Moody, Langley, White Rock, Squamish, Colwood, Sooke, Whistler, Ladysmith and Cumberland all allow secondary suites to be built in all single-family residences.
Meanwhile, Abbotsford, Maple Ridge, West Kelowna, North Cowichan, Parksville, Fort St. John, Pitt Meadows, Port Alberni, Esquimalt, Comox, Powell River, Sidney, Terrace, Williams Lake and Qualicum Beach allow secondary suites in either the most prevalent single-family home zoning designation – which in Campbell River would be the R-1 designation – or in most of their single-family residences, such as Comox, which only excludes residences zoned R2.2.
The majority of respondents who had concerns about the proposed changes cited on-street parking issues as their main point of contention, but the current regulations state that a single-family home with a suite must provide three off-street parking spaces – two for the main home and one for the suite – and the report presented by staff indicates that on-street parking issues are caused less by suites than by the single-family homes themselves.
“If uptake of suites is similar to other comparable cities, it would result in secondary suites being built in one or two houses out of ten,” the report reads. “If the suite residents have guests, street parking could be at a premium; however, that could also occur if two more single-family homes were added to the neighbourhood. If council is concerned about street parking in neighbourhoods, it appears there would be more impact in requiring more than two parking spots per single-family home than in increasing the requirement only for secondary suites.”
Council voted to receive the two reports and will place the issue on the agenda for the second Committee of the Whole meeting in January to have a more robust discussion about how to move forward than would generally be able to happen at a council meeting.