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Letter: Zoning amendment should be reconsidered

Former architect wants to see language that will ensure privacy, safety and security

Dear editor,

“The human right to adequate housing is more than just four walls and a roof. It is the right of every woman, man, youth and child to gain and sustain a safe and secure home and community in which to live in peace and dignity,” says the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

On Nov. 26, Revelstoke City Council agreed to remove residential floor area requirements from the zoning bylaw.

READ MORE: Revelstoke City Council to remove minimum home sizes

The home building industry and government programs are keen to deliver housing smaller than the bylaw permits.

Currently, a studio apartment in Revelstoke must be larger than 430 square feet. By comparison one in a BC Housing project must be smaller than 350 square feet. This change is a positive step in Revelstoke’s campaign to address its affordable housing crisis.

Other changes were included in council’s decision with some unintended consequences.

The definition for dwelling unit was updated to embrace internationally accepted principles of diversity, inclusivity and non-discrimination, a laudable policy change.

However, important regulatory mechanisms were lost in the transition.

Specific zoning language authorizes municipalities to manage household size and security. The recent amendment removed language setting a limit of one kitchen per self-contained dwelling unit, enabling multiple kitchens and multiplying the number of potential occupants.

Municipalities can also stipulate the maximum number of unrelated persons in a dwelling unit.

Several communities including Kelowna do both: Revelstoke’s revised bylaw will do neither.

This recent revision to Revelstoke’s zoning bylaw raises serious questions. Do we value housing that provides a private, safe, secure place to live? Is freedom from overcrowded dwellings important for homes and neighbourhoods?

Yes, of course.

So let’s reconsider and reintroduce language into the zoning bylaw that mandates homes where household groups of reasonable size can live in peace and dignity.

-Eileen Fletcher, Revelstoke resident and retired architect (AIBC)