A new bylaw has been given first reading by Campbell River city council that could see secondary suites become legal in any single-family home in Campbell River. Mirror File Photo

Public consultation to begin on ‘blanket’ secondary suites bylaw in Campbell River

A series of open houses, survey to be held throughout the summer before bylaw comes back to council

As reported in the Mirror near the end of June, the City of Campbell River is considering altering its bylaws to allow secondary suites in any single-family residence in the city.

City staff were asked to prepare a proposed bylaw at the June 25 Committee of the Whole meeting. That proposed bylaw came back to council this week, was given first reading and will now proceed to public consultation.

That consultation process will begin in August with two public open houses, with another to follow in September, along with a public online survey, according to the staff report presented with the proposed bylaw on Monday.

The open houses will be held in various locations across the city, the report says, “to ensure good geographical coverage.”

The first open house will be held downtown at the Community Centre on Aug. 7, the second will be held at Willow Point Hall on Aug. 20 and the third will be held at the Sportsplex in Willow Point on Sept. 5.

The exact times will be determined and advertised in two consecutive editions of the Mirror prior to the meetings themselves, the report says.

After the open houses and public survey is completed, the information gathered will be presented to the city’s Community Planning Advisory Committee who will consider the draft bylaw and community feedback and make a recommendation to council in October.

At that point, council can choose to give the bylaw second reading and make any changes it feels necessary.

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While first reading of the bylaw was passed Monday – with only Coun. Charlie Cornfield voting in opposition – there were clearly some concerns amongst councillors regarding the “blanket” nature of the proposal.

“I don’t support a blanket change in all zones,” Cornfield says, citing the Lakeshore Residential (LS-R) zone, in particular, “which is a separate zone to protect our drinking water and was put in for a reason. I’m not afraid to review policies or bylaws, but not this and not now.”

Cornfield also expressed concern about the added strain on infrastructure should the city suddenly see a high number of secondary suites put in.

“We know we’re at or near capacity on a number of sewer and water systems … and there are also traffic issues, parking on boulevards and we haven’t finished examining those issues,” Cornfield says.

Coun. Claire Moglove said that while the current bylaw would allow for secondary suites in all zones, that might not be how it ends up when all is said and done, so she was happy to begin the formal process of community consultation.

“That’s why we’re going to first reading only and then going to the public,” Moglove says. “It may be that between first and second (reading), that we find out there are some zones where it’s not appropriate, but let’s take a look at it,” adding that “the issue of housing is probably the number one issue in the minds of most people in Campbell River … and this I see as one step and one step only in the process of trying to address that issue.”

Councillors Colleen Evans, Ron Kerr and Kermit Dahl had similar concerns as Cornfield, but all were willing to at least see the bylaw move forward to see what the public has to say, hoping they will come up with something positive for the community in the end.

“I also have serious concerns with a blanket bylaw like this,” Kerr said. “But I will vote in favour so that we can go out to the community … and really get the pulse of what’s happening across the community and hear from the different areas and see if they want to see that.”

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