Colwood council appears to have support from the community for a proposed amendment to the city’s land use bylaw aimed at allowing more and larger secondary suites.
Five speakers stood before council at a public hearing March 2, all voicing their support for the proposed changes. Those changes include changing the definition of an accessory dwelling to also mean a suite in an accessory building on a townhome lot, increasing the allowed maximum size of accessory dwelling units to 90 square metres, and adding an exclusion to size limits on accessory buildings in general where the size of dwelling areas are not counted in the accessory building’s overall size.
Speaker Catherine Douglas said she supports the proposed changes given the shortage of housing in the Greater Victoria region. She said she feels reducing restrictions on secondary suites in the city will allow for the densification of private property in a measured manner, and would especially help address the needs of an aging population.
She said her parents have been trying to move to Colwood for a number of years but have been unable to find housing they could afford. Should the changes be approved, she would be able to create a secondary suite on her property for her parents to move into, and the proposed larger size allowances could even allow for potential two-bedroom units.
That sort of multi-generational living was also raised as a reason to support the changes by several of the other speakers during the hearing.
May Winston said her parents live in a secondary suite on her property right now, but her son has had to move into a condo she purchased for him as he could not afford to live on his own. Should the changes go ahead, she would be able to construct a cottage-styld suite on her property to allow her son to move in, freeing up that condo for other residents seeking a home.
While all the speakers were in favour of the changes as they stand, Metchosin resident Collin Sparks urged council to consider taking the changes even further. Sparks argued it would also be beneficial to allow small front-yard business operations in residential areas to help struggling entrepreneurs who are not able to afford what limited commercial space is available in the region.
That additional move would also encourage residents to shop within their own neighbourhood, rather than having to travel to a larger store elsewhere in the community.
Leading up to the public hearing, council passed the first and second readings of the proposed bylaw amendment on Jan. 9, and will look to consider third reading and adoption at a later date once public input has been considered.