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Secondary suite deal not so tasty for West Kelowna residents association

Friday, April 2nd, 2010 | 9:24 am

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West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater.

By John McDonald

West Kelowna council is heading for a clash with the West Kelowna Residents Association over the coming secondary suites policy and its provision for their approval without a public hearing.

“Our interpretation is that council will be able to put in secondary suites without public input,” said association president Tom Howe, who said a councillor he would not name had made available to them a draft of the policy.

Howe sent a letter to the mayor and councillors last week, outlining their concerns and including specific recommendations against a 12-month amnesty once the bylaw is passed and allowing the use of a property manager when the owner is not resident.

The group also opposes the use of so-called alternate life safety standards when requiring owners to upgrade their suites and doesn’t like their “negative effect” on real estate prices.

“The bottom line is this; When you go out and buy an R1 house, it gives you the privilege of being in a single-family dwelling in an area of single dwellings,” said Howe. “You’ve got a $500,000 house with a good view and all of a sudden they let suites in houses, it gets devalued and you’ve got to put up with all the cars and the noise.”

Although still in draft form, Mayor Doug Findlater confirmed the policy would allow council to approve secondary suites without public hearing, but said its necessary given the estimated 2,000 illegal suites existing within West Kelowna.

“There is just too many. We are simply not going to be able to do public hearings on all of them,” said Findlater. “Providing they meet all other standards, a public hearing is not going to be required.”

The mayor said alternate life safety standards are a modified building code that deals with older buildings and are not substandard.

Findlater admitted the secondary suite policy has moved off an original provision requiring resident owners, but said says that practice “may be illegal.”

“We’re going to tighten it up so somebody’s mom can’t be the property manager, ” he added. “It will have to a recognized property manager.”

Findlater defended the overall intent of the policy as being a way to regulate a significant source of affordable housing in an area that lacks it.

“We’re trying to regularize that,” Findlater added. “And make sure we have safe affordable housing that conforms with bylaws and is done properly.”

The draft secondary suites policy must still be approved by a majority of council at a future meeting.

But Howe said the residents association has some ideas of its own and would like to meet directly with city staff.

Findlater said he will hear more of their concerns when he attends the association’s annual general meeting in a couple of weeks.


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3 Responses to “Secondary suite deal not so tasty for West Kelowna residents association”

  1. Jim says:
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    Another concern would be infrasture. Water sewage etc. things were set up for single family dwellings.

  2. Chris says:
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    Let it happen. I’m sick of paying more taxes than necessary because of freeloading landlords. Other places with similar policies have not seen a decrease in property values such as Victoria and Vancouver.

  3. Mary says:
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    I agree that we need to go ahead with this. But I read an artical in the paper written by Joseph Lvign, that neighbours will NOT be consulted. I think this is wrong! Parking on our street when these illegal/suites were being occupied was terrible. They even used our driveway to park. Snow removal was poor because of the extra vehicles on the road, as well as visability There are many other issues as taxes, water, garbage and sewage to consider. Short of going to the council meeting, how do we have a say?

    Please continue discussion on the forum: link

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