The lack of available and affordable housing everywhere has led North Cowichan to consider some new regulations.

The lack of available and affordable housing everywhere has led North Cowichan to consider some new regulations.

More secondary suites proposed for North Cowichan

Council considers helping to alleviate the availability and affordability housing crisis

North Cowichan council gave first and second reading at its Sept. 6 meeting to a zoning bylaw amendment that would increase the number of attached secondary suites allowed in the municipality.

Housing availability and affordability is an issue across the province and all levels of government are grappling with the increasing demand for affordable housing types.

The proposed bylaw amendment would do two things: 1) allow attached secondary suites in the residential restricted (R2), residential restricted properties (R2-A) and Cliffs Comprehensive Development (CD1 zones), and 2) decrease the minimum lot size for an attached suite in the residential one and two family (R3) zone from 650 m2 to 450 m2.

If adopted, this amendment will have the net effect of allowing up to 2,282 additional attached secondary suites in the municipality without each property having to individually go through a rezoning process.

The breakdown between communities and zones is as follows: Residential Restricted (R2) Chemainus 18, South End 1,037 – Total 1,055.

Residential Restricted Properties (R2-A) South End 437 – Total 437.

Residential One and Two Family (R3) Chemainus 243, Crofton 205, South End 273 – Total 721.

Cliffs Comprehensive Development (CD 1) – South End 69 – Total 69.

Totals: Chemainus 261, Crofton 205, South End 1,816 – Grand Total 2,282.

Not only would such an amendment diversify the municipality’s housing stock, it is also hoped to provide incentive to owners of illegal suites to bring their suites into compliance with the B.C. Building Code, which is critical for ensuring life safety of occupants.

“Council is aware of the need to increase our rental supply in the municipality,” noted Mayor Jon Lefebure. “We hear from residents on a regular basis about how difficult it is to find affordable housing for themselves or their children. Our Official Community Plan says that we will broaden the number of zones that allow secondary suites. This amendment is part of putting that commitment into action.”

The next step in the amendment process is a formal public hearing for people to offer feedback, likely taking place on Oct. 4.