On Monday city council took the first step towards allowing the development of secondary dwellings like cottages and carriage houses on residential lots in addition to a main house.
Mayor Lyn Hall said the city has received a lot of input in favour of allowing secondary homes on city lots. The proposal is in line with the city's Housing for Affordability Policy which calls on the city to reduce barriers to constructing affordable housing.
"It opens up a new market for us, and that's the important piece," Hall said.
City council gave the first and second reading to a number of bylaws which would change the city's official community plan to define, and regulate, the construction of secondary dwellings. The city will be seeking public input on the proposal and hold a public hearing on the issue before the final approval can be given.
City general manager of planning and development Ian Wells said the changes would primarily affect new development.
Owners of existing homes who want to build a cottage or carriage house -a home above a garage - would have to apply to the city under the current regulations for their zoning, Wells said.
Under the bylaw, the secondary residences would be restricted to 90 sq. metres (968.7 sq. feet) or 40 per cent the total floor area of the main house, whichever is smaller. In addition, secondary dwellings would be restricted to lots 12m wide or larger, and require setbacks from 1.5m to 4.5m from the property lines and principal house.
Building a secondary dwelling would require a permit from the city, which would review the proposal to ensure it complies with the requirements for parking, setbacks, water and sewer service, etc.
The official community plan changes would create a framework for people wanting to develop secondary dwellings, Wells said. Currently, each proposal would be have to be reviewed and approved by the city on a case-by-case basis.
In developing the proposed bylaw changes, the city consulted with the Canadian Home Builders Association, local developers, solicited public input and held a public meeting on Jan. 10.
"I know there are a lot of people who have been looking for this," Coun. Murry Krause said.