Carriage houses could aid housing crunch

Armstrong staff has been instructed to bring forward amendments to its current zoning bylaw

Carriage houses could be popping up in Armstrong.

Staff has been instructed to bring forward amendments to its current zoning bylaw that would regulate the development of carriage houses as a secondary use within the R.1 residential low density single-family zone.

Introducing carriage houses would serve as an additional housing option but there would have to be appropriate conditions and limitations attached.

“I think we have a pretty good handle on secondary suites,” said Coun. Paul Britton. “Before we go and approve this, there are quite a lot of different issues to be resolved.”

In a report to council, planner Hazel Christy said secondary residences, also known as carriage houses among other names, can be a positive additional to a residential neighbourhood.

“In Armstrong, where land options are limited  and the focus is on compact development, carriage houses and secondary suites are a way of using land efficiently to accommodate growth and provide alternative housing options,” wrote Christy.

“Carriage houses and secondary suites can provide another means of adding density where subdivision is not a desireable option.”

Municipalities are faced with demands for affordable rental housing from residents looking to house aging parents, students or young couples, or simply as a rental unit and mortgage helper.

“The challenge,” wrote Christy, “is to achieve this without changing the context of the low density residential neighbourhood or creating unfair impacts on adjacent properties.”

Potential impacts of allowing carriage houses could be their size, reducing privacy for neighbours, increased parking demands, noise and traffic, and increased demands on municipal services.

Currently, Armstrong permits secondary suites in the R.1 zone subject to specific conditions. Christy recommends a similar approach with carriage houses, which are defined as a residential unit located within a separate building that is secondary or accessory to the principal residence on the property.