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Coldstream adjusts controversial building bylaw

A controversial bylaw that left a number of Coldstream homeowners on edge is now being scaled back.

The district’s subdivision, development and servicing bylaw is in the process of being adjusted to identify specific areas where off-site works are required.

The changes remove single and dual-unit homes from the equation, with the exception of drainage issues in specific areas.

When a building permit (over $50,000) is sought in the specified areas, the homeowner will be required to pay a maximum of $2,500 to upgrade drainage fronting their property.

The areas identified as being improperly drained are: Buchanan Road, Cottonwood Lane, Fairmont Place, Howe Drive (north of Kalamalka Road), Kalavista Drive, Ponderosa Way, Rendell Drive, Rockland Drive, Scenic Drive, Springfield Road (9900 block), Tebo Drive, Torrent Drive, Upland Drive, Westkal Road and Kidston Road.

The changes, anticipated to be adopted at the March 26 council meeting, follow public outcry over the previous bylaw.

Under that bylaw, the district is permitted to require off-site works fronting a property when any development takes place on the property. Off-site works could include road widening, ditching or other works required to upgrade infrastructure.

But that left a number of residents, and prospective residents, fearful of what they would be required to do if they wanted to renovate their home or make an addition.

“This current bylaw is having a negative effect on real estate sales, construction, renovations, etc.,” said resident Donna Anderson, who blames the bylaw for scaring away two prospective buyers of her home. “Our property taxes are intended to be used for the costs of infrastructure, not building permits.”

Coldstream council recognizes that the bylaw created issues and concerns, but also recognizes that there are infrastructure needs (particularly drainage) in the community.

“This council decided that the previous bylaw was wrong and we had to look at it. We don’t want to have confrontation,” said Coun. Gyula Kiss. “But now we know we have major problems with our drainage.”

Coun. Peter McClean was actually opposed to the bylaw, but sees it as an interim fix so that area problems can be addressed and residents can gain clarity about how the bylaw could impact them.

“We’re trying to create something that will work for now, it doesn’t mean it’s final.”

Yet, some local residents, and businesses, aren’t pleased with the changes.

“You’re asking the property owner to support something that we as a community should be supporting in our budgets,” said resident Glenn Jespersen. “We need to do this (drainage improvements) as a community.”

Local resident and owner of Keith Construction, Ken Dahlen, sees the bylaw as an abuse of power.

“I really think it’s an erosion of property rights. As citizens and property owners we’re at your mercy.”

Although the proposed new bylaw is an improvement, resident Barb Mitchell thinks that it still isn’t fair.

“It almost sounds like a union tactic where you ask for the moon to begin with and settle at $2,500.”

The bylaw changes also do not change requirements for commercial, industrial or institutional properties. And that doesn’t bring any relief to owners of the former Coldstream Market, who have been trying to sell their property for six years.

“We’ve had a number of parties that have been interested but have been deterred with respect to the cost of the off-site works,” said Jim Arthur, as a number of standards are required for development in the town centre area.

He also suggested that the $50,000 trigger mark for off-site works should be re-evaluated, which council says it will be looking at.

“It should be looked at to the value of today’s world and today’s numbers,” said Arthur. “I think you have to keep in mind that the cost of everything has gone up.”

 

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