Rural areas examine secondary suites

Electoral areas considering permitting secondary suites, tax exemptions debated

There is a push to make housing more affordable in rural parts of the Regional District of the North Okanagan.

The Electoral Area Advisory Committee has asked staff to consider permitting secondary suites in residences.

“It could help with a family’s mortgage, especially with the way house prices are,” said director Eugene Foisy.

Beyond that, Foisy says there could be other benefits for rural residents.

“Older people may want to stay with their family instead of leaving the community and going into a care home.”

While not legal, secondary suites do exist in the rural areas and Foisy says some regulations would provide safety standards.

Tax exemptions debated

There are some questions as to which groups should get a break on taxes.

The Electoral Area Advisory Committee has decided not to give the Vernon Fish and Game Club property tax exemption status for 2013 because staff described it is a membership-based organization that primarily provides services to its members.

However, some committee members aren’t satisfied with that response.

“Staff will look at ways to better define the criteria of who qualifies,” said Rick Fairbairn, EAAC chairperson.

The groups receiving tax exemptions for 2013 are the Vernon and District Association for Community Living, the Gyro Club of Vernon, the Mara Musical and Athletic Association and the North Okanagan Community Life Society.