It appears the issue of allowing living suites in Restricted Residential homes is making its way back into city hall.
At Whitehorse city council’s July 6 meeting, city planner Hannah McDonald brought forward a proposed zoning amendment from the owners of 39 14th Ave. in Porter Creek that would allow for a living suite in the house. The owners are looking to build the suite for an aging family member.
Under the RR zone, living suites are not permitted, though the matter has come up a number of times previously, as council heard.
McDonald highlighted instances in 2014 and 2018 when it was considered by council through zoning changes as well as a survey in 2016 of RR property owners on the issue.
In 2014, council defeated the proposal for rezoning 37 14th Ave. “because it was considered to contravene the 2011 planning process led by the city when the infill lots (in the area) were created.”
The 2018 situation; however, saw two RR lots on North Star Drive approved for living suites.
Meanwhile the 2016 survey saw a mix of opinions on the matter with some noting they had purchased RR zoned homes because of restrictions on living suites while others argued that RR lots and homes are large and therefore ideal for living suites among other arguments.
“Living suites allow for additional dwelling units in areas where there are existing municipal services such as sewer, water, and garbage/compost collection,” McDonald highlighted in her report. “Living suites are an important aspect of housing affordability, as they provide rental housing options for tenants and assist owners through rental income.
“In 2011, RR zoning was chosen for the subject property and the three adjacent lots due to concerns from the public about consistency with the existing low-density neighbourhood. In the nine years that have passed since this decision, public opinion may have changed.”
Coun. Dan Boyd wondered if the city could consider looking at the possibility of an overall change that would contemplate allowing living suites for all RR properties. McDonald noted that following the rewrite of the city’s Official Community Plan, the zoning bylaw will be looked at and this could be part of that effort or council could direct staff to look specifically at that part of the bylaw earlier.
As it stands on this application though, council is scheduled to vote on first reading of the rezoning for 39 14th Ave. at its July 13 meeting. If that’s approved a public hearing would be held Aug. 10 before council’s summer break. Second and third reading would then come forward September 14 following a report on the hearing.
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