A new zoning bylaw in Harrison Hot Springs has been adopted in 4-1 vote, after about four years of work by staff and various councils.
Bylaw 1020 was adopted on Monday night by council, following a lengthy process of public input and amendments that began in 2008. Councillor Zoltan Kiss was the sole voice in opposition of the third reading and adoption of the bylaw.
The bylaw is the guiding document for all zoning in the Village, and updates included new charts, new regulations for secondary suites and more precise wording intended for ease of use.
It states that secondary suites will only be allowed in R2 zoning. However, that wording was not clear enough for Kiss, who stated the bylaw was “ambiguous.”
“You could poke a hole through it,” he said. “You could drive a truck through it.”
Councillor Allan Jackson had noted, via teleconference, that a notation could be added to the section about secondary suites that it was only allowed in R2. However, staff and other members of council pointed out that it is very clearly stated in other areas of the bylaw.
“For me, I looked through it and it was pretty straightforward,” Councillor John Buckley said.
“It’s really black and white,” Councillor Sonja Reyerse said. “You can’t actually poke any holes in it.”
Reyerse also read a statement about the negative reaction the bylaw has received from some members of the community.
“It’s always surprising to me to see the emotional reactions that result from people’s fear of change. For some in Harrison it seems to be a real phobia and regardless of how positive the change they only see doom and gloom,” she said.
“We’re not reinventing the wheel and we’re not fixing something that isn’t broken,” she said. “We are simply updating a 16-year-old bylaw… The world moves on, change happens and you need to keep your bylaws up to date if you want to stay current and competitive in the development world.”
She noted that Whitehorse, Nanaimo and Oliver are just a few of the communities which are also rewriting their zoning bylaw. Most recently, the bylaw was presented at two public hearings, in which residents were allowed to make comments.
Many who attended those meetings expressed contempt for the idea of secondary suites in the Village. Some of their concerns were that secondary suites, or mortgage helpers, would lessen the value of their own homes, bring in more crime and clog residential streets with extra vehicles.
While there are currently a handful of secondary suites in the Village, the previous bylaw did not include allowances for them to be built. Staff said builders now have clear direction that they are only allowed in the R2 zone, which also allows for duplexes.
Jackson said the “staff has done a great job of putting this bylaw together.”