'Suite' deal for home owners

Kelowna Mayor, Walter Gray has followed through with one of his his key post election promises.

Gray and the rest of council unanimously approved a process that will make it easier and cheaper for homeowners to construct legal secondary suites in their homes.

The new process, which received first reading Monday, will now go to a public hearing July 24.

Changes to the new zoning bylaw will also allow secondary suites to be created within existing single-family dwellings throughout the city, rather than only in designated ‘s’ zones.

“This strategy will help provide affordable housing in our community with minimal impact to neighbourhoods,” says Director of Land Use Management Shelley Gambacort.

“No new infrastructure is required as the secondary suites are contained within existing single-family homes.”

Carriage houses are not included in this strategy. They will continue to have a separate approval process.

The new process would result in a 2 to 4-week approval process, compared with 2 to 4-months currently.

The main difference is that applicants no longer need to go through the rezoning process.

Of the 140 secondary suite applications forwarded to Council in the last three years, six were not supported at Council.

“This approach continues to provide checks and balances,” says Gambacort.

“The building, parking and servicing requirements for secondary suites are not changing. All Building Permit applications will be reviewed by City staff to ensure facilities can support the inclusion of a secondary suite. The required Building Permit application runs concurrent with a Business Licence application, which provides another level of oversight on the application, in addition to providing information for recourse after the secondary suite is in place.”

The Housing Strategy (HS) endorsed by City Council in 2011 notes that more than half of households in Kelowna do not have sufficient income to buy housing. More affordable housing options are an identified need in Kelowna.

The HS states: 'The city has a limited ability to influence the availability of housing stock to address the community’s needs.

What the city can do is improve policy and zoning to support the needs for housing and make it clearer and easier to support housing proposals that would be suited to families.'

Secondary suites already exist throughout the city, but those outside the former ‘s’ zones are illegal.

This change addresses the reality of illegal suites and brings greater oversight to safety and neighbourhood issues.

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