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Council debates secondary suites in rental units
The City of Vernon may soon have secondary suites where the primary unit is not owner-occupied.
The city’s affordable housing committee has recommended council authorize staff to investigate the feasibility of permitting single-family dwellings with secondary suites that do not require the property owner to live in either the main unit or secondary suite.
“We had a member of the community come forward wanting to put a secondary suite in a rental home,” said Vernon Coun. Juliette Cunningham, who is also a city rep on the affordable housing committee.
Vernon’s current zoning bylaw on the matter requires the property owner to live in either the primary unit or secondary suite. If they don’t, the secondary suite is to be decommissioned.
“We thought this was worthwhile to ask staff to look into it,” said Cunningham. “We feel we’ve been really successful in having council and the general community support secondary suites because of having that required. Having the owner occupy helps limit issues.”
It was along those lines that Coun. Bob Spears opposed the recommendation.
“The idea that we would ever allow where the owner doesn’t live in the suites seems a step backward,” said Spears. “We’ll have nothing but problems in the future. I don’t think this is even worth investigating.”
Coun. Catherine Lord said she didn’t see an awful lot of difference between primary unit and secondary suites, and duplexes.
“Duplexes could be rented out to two different families, neither one of which own the unit,” said Lord.
Mayor Rob Sawatzky wants to hear from other communities that allow homes with secondary suites to be non-owner-occupied and how things have worked out for them.
A report from city planner Dale Rintoul said there are “several communities” in the province that allow secondary suites where the owner does not have to live on the property.
Council voted in favour of directing staff to look into amending its zoning bylaw to permit not requiring the property owner to reside in either a primary unit or secondary suite of a single family dwelling.
The staff’s report will also be referred to the affordable housing committee for its review and recommendations to council.