Residents of Nursery Hill Drive in View Royal collectively signed a petition asking the town to change a zoning bylaw and allow legal secondary suites in the neighbourhood.
Chris Nel spoke on behalf of the residents at the Sept. 4 town council meeting . He explained to council the neighbourhood is a friendly one, where everyone is in agreement on the issue. There are no parking conflicts, no issues for emergency services access and anytime something does come up residents in the neighbourhood work together to find a solution, he said.
“We would like to work with council in a neighbourly fashion,” Nel said.
Many of the houses on the street already have secondary suites and have done for many years. Some say they purchased houses in the neighbourhood in the understanding that they would be able to rent out the suites to supplement their income and pay the mortgage.
“My kids would be so upset if we had to move now that they have met friends and playmates on the street,” one resident wrote in a letter to council. “Unfortunately there is just no way we could stay without the income from our suite.”
Many residents received notices to decommission their secondary suites which are allowed in the majority of single family residential areas in View Royal, but not all. Enforcement of the bylaw is complaint driven.
At the invitation of View Royal, residents of the street met with town staff to discuss the issue. Staff recommended that the strata submit a rezoning application. Nel told council the residents would do that.
“This is not a matter that is taken lightly,” Mayor Graham Hill said. “We are striving to assure a quality of life and safety and security for the benefit of the community.”
Town Chief Administrative Officer Kim Anema stressed the importance of making sure all suites are up to building codes if they are permitted.
Council voted to stand down any bylaw enforcement on secondary suites in the neighbourhood for nine months, to give time for the rezoning application to go through.
Coun. Ron Mattson urged a strong look at bylaw enforcement policies, considering how long this bylaw has been blatantly ignored.
One View Royal resident spoke at the meeting, warning council they could face other rezoning applications if this one is allowed, and potentially the anger of residents who have already been forced to give up their secondary suites.
“You really have to question if they’re going to come back and say ‘why did you do mine and you’re going to let these people do it?” she said.