The owners of a property on 14th Avenue could soon have the zoning in place to build a living suite in their home.
At Whitehorse city council’s Sept. 8 meeting, members were presented with a public hearing report on the rezoning of 39 14th Ave. to allow for a living suite inside the home along with a recommendation for the bylaw to move forward.
The property is zoned as restricted residential, which does not permit living suites.
The public hearing report presented by planning manager Mélodie Simard noted that the August public hearing heard submissions both for and against the proposal.
While there was only one submission opposing the rezoning, it was signed by four neighbouring property owners who argued the change could impact the character of the neighbourhood, that there is insufficient parking available on-site, and highlighted concerns around the use of a laneway next to the property among others.
Meanwhile, those supporting the change included the property owners, who explained their plans and highlighted space available for parking and pointed to other properties nearby that allow for denser housing. It was noted the city is working to encourage the development of density through the Official Community Plan and other documents.
A neighbour also expressed support stating that allowing the suite would support ageing-in-place in the short term (as the suite would be built for an ageing family member) and housing affordability in the longer term. The neighbour also stated they had no concerns around traffic, parking, or negative impacts on property values.
Responding to the issues in the public hearing report, Simard first noted the concern over a potential change in the character of the neighbourhood, stating that in the neighbourhood of Porter Creek there are 1,300 single detached lots and 95 per cent of those — including properties across the street from 39 14th Ave. — are zoned as Residential Single Detached which allow for living suites inside the home.
“The RR zone has a very limited range of uses,” Simard said. “It only permits single-detached housing and parks as principal uses and accessory buildings and minor home-based businesses as secondary uses. In comparison, the RS zone allows a wider range of uses and dwelling types such as duplexes, triplexes, secondary suites, B&Bs, residential care homes, etc.
“This demonstrates that a living suite would be consistent with the existing uses that are allowed for most properties in the neighbourhood, therefore if the proposed amendment is approved it is unlikely to have a significant impact on the character of the area,” Simard said.
Both councillors Dan Boyd and Laura Cabott asked for more information on the restricted residential zone. Director of development services Mike Gau responded that the zone was established when there was a demand for larger single-detached properties with features like hard-surfaced driveways. It’s designed for lower density and thus suites were not permitted in the zone.
While there are a number of RS zoned properties nearby the home, Coun. Samson Hartland commented those who purchase RR zoned homes likely do so for a particular lifestyle. He suggested approving the rezoning could lead to having to reconsider the full bylaw.
“I’m not convinced this is the right way to approach our housing issues in Whitehorse,” he said.
On the issue of parking, Simard pointed out the property owners would be required to submit a site plan showing requirements are met to have at least one parking space for the living suite.
It was also pointed out in the report there is no bylaw infractions associated with the property and that city staff have recently inspected the home and confirmed there’s no living suite currently there as one submission against the rezoning had suggested.
The second reading will come forward for a vote by council Sept. 14.
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