Revelstoke is on its way to having no restrictions on the minimum size of a housing unit.
At their meeting on Nov. 26, city council did first and second reading of an amendment to the city’s Zoning Bylaw, redefining what a dwelling unit is and eliminating minimum floor area requirements.
They also voted to wave the requirement for a public hearing. According to the staff report, they were allowed to do this because the changes align with the Official Community Plan.
The bylaw currently says that bachelor suites must be larger than 431 sq. ft., one bedroom suites must be larger than 593 sq. ft., two bedroom suites must be larger than 755 sq. ft. and three bedroom suites must be larger than 917 sq. ft.
Marianne Wade, director of development services said that removing this requirement means increased flexibility for future projects, without always bringing the project to council for a variance permit.
The new definition of a dwelling unit “means one or more habitable rooms containing cooking facilities, eating, living and sleeping areas and bathroom facilities, and occupied or constructed to be occupied by a person or persons living together as a single house hold unit.”
The previous definition said a dwelling unit “means none or more habitable rooms constituting a self-contained unit with a separate entrance and used or intended to be used together for living and sleeping purposes for not more than one family and containing a separate and properly ventilated kitchen with a sink and cooking facilities and a bathroom with toilet, wash basin and a bath or shower.”
City councillors said they received a letter expressing concern at the removal of this requirement and how it might affect the safety and privacy of those living in secondary suites as well as how it might affect the density of neighbourhoods. The letter was not available to The Review upon request.
Wade said that the changed definition will not impact the fact that properties need to be properly zoned to have multi-family residences in accordance with the Zoning Bylaw.
She also eased councillors concerns by saying that the term “single house hold unit” is a modern interpretation of “self-contained unit”, and that the BC Building Code and the Zoning Bylaw will work together to ensure the health and safety of occupants.
The building code outlines requirements for firewalls between dwellings as well as the number of exits needed per floor of a structure.