An outdated zoning bylaw in Harrison Hot Springs is nearing the end of a review process, and a small group of residents attended an open house last Thursday explaining the proposed changes.
Andre Isakov, manager of planning and community services for the Village, led a presentation outlining the draft bylaw, which was reworked with the help of the Area Planning Commission. Much of it includes administration changes that more clearly set out the definitions of different zones. Other highlights of the draft bylaw are a new residential zone, clear secondary suites regulations and better wording.
The new housing density zone, R-1A, refers to a low density residential, medium lot.
The proposed zoning bylaw clearly defines the permitted uses for each zone using “easier-to-understand” graphs, listing the principal and accessory uses appropriate for each density zone.
Accessory secondary suites would be allowed in the proposed zoning bylaw, in low density zones R-1 through R-4. However, Isakov pointed out that it is stated in the draft that the owner of a home must live in either the suite or the main living area of the house — meaning that entire houses could not be suited out to different renters.
Last Thursday’s meeting, held in Memorial Hall, was the first of two public open houses. The second was held this Thursday, after press time. The process of updating the bylaw was started by former Village planner Michael Rosen. It has already been under legal review and council review.
The Village is still open to public feedback, and the draft bylaw will be the subject of a public hearing on November 19.
If council approves the draft bylaw, it will then go through adoption.
At an October 15 council meeting, councillor Allan Jackson said he was “opposed to secondary suites” citing concerns of how Harrison would look if too many houses are suited out.
“I have enough experience to see what happens when all of a sudden you change a residential area into a multi-family area,” he said. “Housing in Harrison is already inexpensive as it is.”
While he supports families having an in-law suite, he said he’s worried about the future look of Harrison.
“It’s a slippery slope,” he said. Councillor John Buckley said he agreed with Jackson’s statements.
Jackson opposed the first and second reading of the new bylaw.
Last Thursday, Isakov walked the audience through the reasons behind a zoning bylaw, and the differences between the bylaw and the Official Community Plan.
A zoning bylaw implements the objectives and policies of the OCP, provides a legal way of managing land use and future development, and protects the community from conflicting and possibly dangerous land uses.
The OCP sets out general policy for future land use, and the zoning bylaw puts that plan into effect, he said. The current bylaw is about 16 years old. Isakov said they should be updated every five to 10 years.