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Vernon secondary suite requirement shot down

Vernon officials are backing away from a secondary suite rule even though they still believe it’s the right thing to do.

Lawyers have questioned a city bylaw that would force the owner to reside on a property that has a secondary rental suite, so the bylaw could ultimately be rescinded.

“Because of legal opinion, I’m going to be forced to vote for this very reluctantly,” said Coun. Bob Spiers.

The city has obtained a legal opinion to determine if it can require a property owner to live in either the primary unit or the secondary suite in the case of single-detached housing.

“The advice received indicates that the city cannot legally have such a requirement in the zoning bylaw,” said planner Dale Rintoul in a report.

“Deletion of the owner occupancy regulation in the zoning bylaw would enable the primary unit and the secondary suite to be occupied by residents that are not the owner of the property.”

Under the current bylaw, council had wanted the property owner to live on site so there was oversight of tenant activities.

“When you have an owner in the unit, there is less conflict for the neighbourhood,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham of traffic, noise and property maintenance.

Spiers believes rescinding the bylaw also goes against the original purpose of the rule.

“It was supposed to be a mortgage helper for people,” he said of first-time home buyers.

While owners won’t have to live on site, that doesn’t mean renters will be able to do what ever they want.

‘“We will still react to building complaints and parking complaints and they (suites) will still require a business license,” said Rintoul.

Council has not made a final decision on rescinding the bylaw as it wants more staff information on legal implications as well as options to deal with enforcement of problems arising from suites.

 

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