Viewscapes on agenda

Coldstream debate over high-rise homes left to new council

Coldstream’s new council will have to rappel concerns over building heights blocking views.

Current elected officials decided Monday not to take any action on protecting viewscapes in established neighbourhoods when an existing home undergoes a significant addition.

“We want to gather some information and we will let the new council work out the details of what it looks like,” said Coun. Doug Dirk.

“There is more involved to this than us just selecting an option.”

District staff had recommended that existing regulations regarding building heights and views be maintained, but other options had been presented as a way of addressing concerns in at least one neighbourhood.

The issue of viewscapes has been raised by Karen and Robert Stothers Dawson, who live on Sunflower Place.

“This is a question of what type of place Coldstream wants to be in the future,” said Karen Stothers Dawson.

“Do we want to be a place where property owners are treated equally and one owner cannot significantly modify their existing house to remove another owner’s view and reduce their property value?”

Stothers Dawson believes the issue could grow in scope as older homes come on to the market and original owners downsize.

“This could be an issue in the future,” she said, adding that the municipality needs to take action.

“It may become a big problem if we don’t address it. People would like to know somebody can’t build in front of them.”

Existing Coldstream rules for sloped lots are based on a tiered system.

“While this system works well for new subdivisions, it can be problematic for in-fill situations where owners are permitted to build higher than other homes in the immediate area,” said Craig Broderick, director of development services, in a report.

“Conflict about view impact can arise when owners wish to take advantage of the 11-metre maximum provision of the zoning regulations.”

Staff recommended staying with current rules because there have only been two complaints about viewspaces and they were from the same individual.

“Changing the zoning bylaw height calculations may result in creating non-conforming houses, increased costs, complexity and time for the building permit process and an increase in development variance permit applications,” said Broderick.

As part of the upcoming review, Coun. Maria Besso wants North Vancouver’s bylaw considered.

“It does seem like a potentially good solution,” she said.

 

North Vancouver does not allow for an existing single-family residence to reconstruct to a height greater than currently exists.