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Media Release - City explores new housing opportunities - September 18, 2017

MEDIA RELEASE
 
September 18, 2017
 
City explores innovative housing opportunities
 
The City of Powell River is seeking public input into the introduction of carriage houses as a new housing option.
 
City staff members have been holding public meetings, plus meetings with ratepayers’ organizations and builders, to explain carriage houses and to receive input, feedback and questions regarding this new type of housing for Powell River.
 
Jason Gow, planner for the City of Powell River, speaking at a meeting at the Powell River Public Library on Wednesday, September 13, said the big question is: what is a carriage house?
 
“Historically, it was the housing for your horse-drawn cart, and sometimes there were living accommodations above for the drivers of the carts,” Gow said.  The City’s definition aims to be broader and includes a suite above or beside the garage as well as a standalone garden suite.  A carriage house would be a secondary, smaller residence on a parcel of property that could accommodate renters or family members, such as aging parents or adult children with disabilities.
 
The city is considering permitting carriage houses because policies in the Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP) and the Sustainable Official Community Plan (SOCP) speak to exploring opportunities to increase rental accommodation, the diversity of housing type, and the potential to age in place.
 
Powell River has many residential properties that are large in comparison to other regions, Gow said. He added that one of the benefits of the carriage house movement is the ability to increase housing and population density without dramatically changing a neighbourhood’s character.
 
“While we want to see increased density, we don’t want to dramatically change that character,” Gow said. “This is a way we can take the existing neighbourhood and add density to it without transforming it dramatically.
 
“People are talking to us about more flexible living arrangements. People are saying to us they have aging parents they’d like to accommodate on their property but not in their house. Adult children with disabilities is another one. We’ve had a number of people come to the planning department counter and speak to this issue, wanting carriage houses for exactly this reason.”
 
Amendments have been proposed for the city’s zoning bylaw and the SOCP to allow for carriage houses. Currently, the zoning bylaw does not allow for more than one residential-use building per parcel. The change being proposed for the SOCP is the introduction of an additional development permit area that would cover the introduction of carriage houses.
 
In January of this year, city council gave direction to planning staff to draft amendment bylaws. A carriage house workshop was conducted by a consultant who came and worked with city officials. The consultant presented information about how other coastal municipalities, such as Sechelt, Gibsons, Comox and Courtenay, implemented their carriage house programs.
 
Between January and June, city staff worked on the regulatory framework and introduced proposed amendment bylaws. In July, first reading was given to those bylaws and staff were directed to go out and engage the public.
 
“We are going to take feedback and refine the proposed regulations if need be,” Gow said. “We will then have a public hearing, plus second, third and fourth readings of the bylaw. Hopefully, by early November, we are good to go with the amended bylaws allowing for carriage houses.”
 
Under the proposed changes, carriage houses would be allowed in specific zones in Wildwood, Cranberry and Westview. “We are talking about permitting carriage houses in all R1, R2, RA1, A1 and A2 zones across the region,” Gow said. Carriage house on properties within the Townsite National Historic District are not being considered. “Townsite lots are typically small and carriage houses don’t form part of the garden city movement. The Townsite Heritage Society is concerned about the district losing its national designation.”
 
Carriage homes would be permitted on lots bigger than 730 square metres, or 0.18 acres, in the specified zones. It is proposed that carriage houses must not exceed 90 square metres, or 968 square feet of habitable living space, but must also adhere to regulations as they relate to accessory buildings not exceeding 10 per cent of lot coverage.
 
“So, for example, if there was an 800 square metre property parcel, 10 per cent of that is going to be 80 square metres,” Gow said. “The maximum size of the carriage house will be dictated by the size of the land parcel.” Other accessory buildings, such as garages and sheds are also factored in with the carriage house square footage and all together must be less than 10 per cent.
 
As height is an important consideration, staff have proposed to maintain the existing accessory building height restrictions to ensure views are protected to the same degree they are currently. “View impact is a huge concern, especially in Westview,” Gow said.
 
Another concern is parking. An additional off-street parking stall for a carriage house would be required to limit street parking problems.
 
Development permits will be required for carriage houses to ensure new development is consistent and cohesive with the existing neighbourhood. Plans that illustrate how privacy between adjacent properties is achieved will be required as part of the application for a carriage house.
 
‘The last thing we want to do is create negative impacts,” Gow said.
 
 
For more information, contact:
Jason Gow, Senior Planner
(604) 485-8612

 

Photo information:
Senior Planner Jason Gow explains the City of Powell River’s initiative to add carriage houses as a new type of residence in specific City zones.
 

Event date: 
Monday, September 25, 2017 - 9:30am

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