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Density increase in three zones aims to address housing crisis: Sechelt council briefs

​​​​​​​Sechelt staff highlight some tweaks to the Zoning Bylaw update – the full second draft is set to come out Friday. Overall, the bylaw opens up the potential for 1,300 new 'infill' dwellings, said a staff report.
Sechelt Municipal Hall 2
Also, the Sunshine Coast Community Services Society's Building Together project gets its housing agreement and development permit.

The following are briefs from the July 6 regular council meeting.

District of Sechelt is set to release the second draft of its Zoning Bylaw No. 580 update on Friday as part of the July 20 council meeting agenda package. The bylaw, which regulates all land use within the municipality, is coming forward for second reading at that meeting.

The update to the 1987 “vintage” Zoning Bylaw reexamines the allowable uses throughout the municipality, to modernize regulations and simplify zones. 

Staff summarized some of the public feedback from the first draft, which came forward in April, and changes have been made.

The biggest change, said senior policy planner Sam Hogg, is the adding of density bonuses in three zones (RM-1, C-1 and C-4), “to encourage the development of new rental housing.” Rental and social housing developments in those zones would be able to build up to double the base density, said Hogg, calling it a relatively “subtle” change that aligns with the Official Community Plan. 

“This density bonus for rental housing will help ease the District’s shortage of secured rental housing and will give social housing providers clarity when they look to develop new projects,” said the accompanying staff report. 

The staff report says that many public comments centred on the removal of secondary primary dwellings for lots smaller than 4,000 square metres in the R1 zone, instead moving to allow detached accessory dwelling units. Staff increased the allowable size of accessory dwelling units in this zone from 90 square metres to 120 square metres. Some of the homeowners of these lots had plans to build houses for their children on these lands, said the staff report, and argues that this plan allows for that but on a smaller scale. 

Overall, the bylaw opens up the potential for more than 1,300 new “infill” dwellings, said the staff report. Some of this comes from new allowances for accessory dwelling units. 

Council also mulled over allowances for a second single-unit dwelling in the R1 zone in exchange for a “moderate density bonus payment.” Staff sought council’s input to weigh the OCP’s guideline of limiting expansion in unserviced areas and consideration for homeowners looking to build second homes on their properties. Councillors Matt McLean and Alton Toth were leaning toward not making that change. “I want to see a strong case in why this is advantageous,” said McLean. “Because I don’t see it right now.”

“I think that this runs the risk of just being two primary homes on a property, which is not necessarily what we need,” said Toth.

After second reading, public hearing is tentatively set for Sept. 7. Council takes August off. 

Building Together permit

Sunshine Coast Community Services Society’s (SCCSS) ‘Building Together’ project got its development permit. Earlier in the meeting, council had passed three readings of a 60-year housing agreement to ensure the 34 dwelling units in the 5638 Inlet Avenue building will be rented at affordable rates to women and women with children who meet low and moderate income eligibility. SCCS is invoking the Commercial 2 (C-2) zoning’s density bonus to allow for increased building height in exchange for affordable rental housing, said the staff report.  

Ebbtide housing agreement

The 28-unit rental development at 5681 Ebbtide St., between Hightide and Wharf avenues, had its housing agreement adopted. The 40-year agreement, registered on title, secures the 28 units as rentals at market rental rates. The development is using density bonusing to have more density in the Residential 4 (R4)-zone in exchange for rental housing. 

Police funds

Mayor Darnelda Siegers updated council on RCMP pressures on the district budget. The last time the RCMP had a contract was 2016, when it entered union negotiations. Municipalities had been told to put aside 2.5 per cent for an increase per year but that number is closer to three and a half per cent on average, said Siegers. Another budget pressure is the federally mandated body cameras: the equipment and the staffing to manage the collected data. Finally, E-Comm, emergency communications updates to equipment and processes, mandated by the feds, will also bite into municipal coffers. Union of BC Municipalities is asking if the federal government can help ease the burden of some of the costs and phase them in, said Siegers. 

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