Skip to content

Delta approves zoning changes for neighbourhoods, but keeps some control

Council voices concern about the province wanting to radically alter established single-family neighbourhoods
Mayor George Harvie speaks to three protesters who were part of a group outside the North Delta Centre for the Arts making their opposition known about the proposed new OCP. Sandor Gyarmati photo

Delta council on Monday granted preliminary approval to a set of zoning changes that will pave the way for more small-scale, multi-unit forms of housing on single-family and duplex lots, while choosing to maintain city standards that control how many units can be built.

The province last fall introduced several pieces of legislation aimed at increasing housing supply including legislation requiring local governments to permit increased density in areas traditionally designated for single-detached homes.

The zoning changes, required for implementation by June 30, will permit a minimum of four dwelling units on any property exceeding a certain size with a minimum of six units permitted in areas within 1,132-square-feet of frequent transit.

Applications that meet the new provincial small-scale multi-unit housing (SSMUH) requirements will go straight to the building permit stage without the need for public notification letters and on-site signage.

A planning department report notes that the amendments will help Delta bring new housing units into the community to help meet a target given to the city by the province, adding that there are circumstances where a property may not be able to achieve additional units allowed by the legislation.

To support local governments in implementing the requirements, the province has released a Policy Manual and Site Standards document to provide guidance on how to implement the zoning changes. It includes site standards that must be considered by a local government.

However, cities are not required to follow those standards and can continue to use their own standards when it comes to things like setbacks, height and floor area coverage.

That means property owners can’t expect to automatically be allowed to have four units on their lots.

Garden suites and coach houses in Delta, for example, are required to have minimum setbacks of 1.5-metres from all lot lines, and they would be required to be constructed behind the principal dwelling unit.

“This interim approach would allow Delta to fully evaluate the effects of these changes on established neighbourhoods over time. Staff will be actively reviewing applications received to undertake further analysis in determining what additional changes are warranted to support the delivery of viable SSMUH projects, while evaluating potential impacts on adjacent residential properties,” the report notes.

During council’s discussion on Delta’s approach, Coun. Rod Binder said the city maintaining its right to have some restrictions should temper some of the anxiety in the community.

Mayor George Harvie agreed, saying the province should “leave us alone” when it comes to established single-family residential areas and municipalities trying to maintain the sustainability of neighbourhoods.

After final adoption of the zoning bylaw, staff will undertake a community awareness campaign to help inform the public of the changes. A public hearing may not be held for the SSMUH zoning amendment bylaws, according to the legislation.

A report evaluating the changes is to come back to council early next year, including an evaluation of relaxed parking requirements as well as development cost charges and a review of the city’s floor area ratios.

Meanwhile, to help Delta meet its housing target, the city is also planning a separate, wider sweeping set of land use changes as part of its updated Official Community Plan (OCP).

Council gave preliminary approval to those changes a few weeks ago. Municipalities are required to have updated OCPs by the end of next year, but the City of Delta is planning to have those changes completed sooner.