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Majority on council agree Delta won't go into 'abyss' with secondary suites

Changes to make it easier for homes previously ineligible to have suite
delta council public hearing
Delta council held a virtual public hearing Monday on changes to the city’s secondary suite bylaw. Planning staff told council no other city has a minimum lot width for secondary suites.

Delta council this week approved a major change in its housing policy, which will likely open the door for more homes being eligible to have secondary suites.

Council held a virtual public hearing Monday on changes to the suite bylaw with the majority of residents participating speaking in favour, most talking about the need for more affordable housing and variety.

The amendments include eliminating the requirement for a minimum lot width of 49-feet to be eligible for a suite and allowing suites on properties that can fit three on-site parking spaces regardless of parking configuration.

The authority to approve and execute discharges and amendments of restrictive covenants to allow secondary suites will also no longer automatically go to council, but instead will be delegated to planning staff when no variances are required.

Citing a number of concerns including parking, saying the city realistically won’t be able to stop tenants and homeowners from using up street parking, councillors Lois Jackson and Dan Copeland voted in opposition.

Mayor George Harvie and councillors Jeannie Kanakos, Bruce McDonald and Dylan Kruger voted in favour, saying the lot width rule was an arbitrary and outdated number which made little sense, since no other municipality had such a restriction.

Coun. Alicia Guichon did not participate as she is on is on maternity leave.

Saying she never had a chance to review hundreds of pieces of correspondence delivered to her house the afternoon of the hearing, Jackson argued many questions remain unanswered when it comes to the actual number of suites that could eventually be added, as well as impacts on neighbourhoods.

Concerned about the livability of neighbourhoods, Copeland wondered if it’s really about developers maximizing density or profits.

He also noted he doesn’t want Delta neighbourhoods ending up like those in Surrey that have major parking headaches.

Saying Delta can always introduce resident-only parking if some streets have problems, McDonald said he believes they are not “driving Delta over the abyss if we do this.”

Harvie, agreed, saying the potential number of new suites in the city would be minimal.

He added parking is already an issue the city will have to deal with, while Delta is “also way behind on sidewalks.”

Delta currently has over 2,800 dwellings with a secondary suite occupancy permit, with approximately 75 percent of the authorized suites located in North Delta.

Out of approximately 23,600 single-detached lots in Delta, removing the lot width requirement would allow secondary suites on approximately 1,950 additional lots, provided that three off-street parking spaces could be provided and B.C. Building Code requirements are met, according to planning staff.

Approximately 220 lots that are less than 49-feet-wide already have a secondary suite.