No conflict here, says Sentes

An unprecedented bylaw that would ban carriage homes from a Penticton neighbourhood was forwarded Tuesday to a public hearing next month, supported by a vote from a councillor living in that very neighbourhood.

Coun. Judy Sentes was the tie-breaking vote on a request from residents of the Kendall Crescent area, which came before council with a petition asking for a ban on carriage homes for 30 properties in the area.

Of the 30 properties that would be impacted, 24 owners signed the petition in support of the ban.

Sentes lives in the affected neighbourhood and did not sign the petition in an apparent attempt to stay neutral, but opted to not recuse herself from the vote Tuesday, ultimately voting in support of the local ban.

Had Sentes abstained from the vote, the motion would have been defeated by a 2-2 tie with Couns. Andre Martin and Helena Konanz opposed and Tarik Sayeed and Max Picton absent.

In response to questions from the media about a possible conflict, Sentes said she sought counsel from city corporate services manager Laurie Darcus on the issue.

“There was in no manner that I was going to receive a financial benefit from the question, so therefore it was deemed that I was not in a conflict, so I was cleared to sit,” Sentes said, adding she does not “share the opinion” that there could be a perceived conflict on the issue.

The petition for a local ban on carriage homes in the Kendall Crescent area was sparked by outrage caused by a massive carriage home proposed for the neighbourhood last month.

Neighbourhood representative Peter Dewdney argued their neighbourhood was unique in Penticton, a point city staff agreed with in their report to council, citing large mature trees and many long-term residents.

“If you imagine that all throughout this neighbourhood, there was these massive houses some of which are in some cases, the main house is subordinate to the carriage house,” Dewdney said. “You could turn this place into a slum, people would just move out and you would have all sorts of people moving in and you would degrade the neighbourhood.”

When council previously voted down the carriage house that sparked the petition, it directed staff to amend the city’s bylaws on carriage homes.

The proposed changes will see a limit on the floor area of carriage homes set at 135 square metres in urban settings and 150 square meters on rural residential lots.

Height will now be limited to five metres on lots without lane access, and windows within 1.5 metres of a side yard must be opaque. Carriage homes will also be required to obtain a building permit from the city, which “adds an extra layer” in the development process.

The amendments to the bylaws passed unanimously and will now go up for public hearing on Oct. 2, alongside the local ban of carriage homes on Kendall Crescent.

Nobody around the council table, including city staff, could recall a time in the city’s recent history where a neighbourhood-specific request was entertained like the local ban on carriage homes. Multiple councillors said they expected other neighbourhoods to come forward with similar requests, which is why Coun. Martin opposed it, stating he “didn’t want to open that can of worms.” Helena Konanz said she would have preferred to see any possible neighbourhood restrictions on carriage homes handled by the Official Community Plan.


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