Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

The proposed standing resolution to defer enforcement on non-conforming residences on Gabriola will be headed to the Local Trust Committee advisory planning commissions, prior to the outgoing LTC considering approving the resolution.

The final meeting of the current LTC is scheduled to be on October 27.

Warren Dingman, Bylaw Compliance & Enforcement Manager for the Islands Trust put forward an alternative resolution to the LTC on September 29, saying that it was more tailor-made to Gabriola.

The initial version put forward by Trustee Scott Colbourne at the July 28 meeting was copied from a standing resolution passed by the Salt Spring LTC in 2021.

Among the changes put forward by Dingman was to put a time limit on deferral of enforcement – of two years.

In his report, Dingman noted, “Standing resolutions cannot be used to amend the Land Use Bylaw, and any deferment of enforcement can only be temporary. If permanent changes are to be considered, it will require that the Official Community Plan and the Land Use Bylaw be amended.”

Dingman also recommended it include the phrase ‘existing non-compliant dwellings’ as after the adoption of the resolution on Salt Spring, there was community concern about a proliferation of new nonpermitted residential uses and the resolution was amended by the Salt Spring Island LTC.

Colbourne said he wanted to have more public engagement on the proposed resolution, and asked that it be sent to the Advisory Planning Commission (APC) as well as the Housing Advisory Planning Commission (HAPC), and then be brought to the Oct. 27 LTC meeting for consideration.

Trustee Kees Langereis asked for two things to be considered.

One would be that even if the standing resolution were put in place before the end of term, the next LTC should hold a Community Information Meeting be held for the public to discuss the resolution.

The second change he asked for was that the standing resolution would only be in place until June 30, 2023, so that the results of his proposed meeting could be brought to the LTC to then decide on keeping the resolution in place.

Chair Dan Rogers said there is no need to have a time limit on a standing resolution. The nature of those resolutions is they can be rescinded or amended at every LTC meeting, it is a standing agenda item for every meeting to discuss doing that.

Colbourne did not want to include a Community Meeting in the motion for the resolution, saying, “I want to put the bandaid on. I want to finish it this term, and hand the next [LTC] the rest of the job.

“But I would like to have a meeting on Oct. 27 to potentially put this into effect.

Colbourne and Rogers voted in favour of sending the proposed resolution to the APC and HAPC, an bringing it back to the Trust Committee on Oct. 27.

Although he had made recommendations for the proposed resolution, Dingman’s primary recommendation was that the current policy of giving property owners to comply would be sufficient to deal with the small number of files that have resulted in enforcement.

He said the majority of property owners choose compliance over enforcement.

Dingman said, “we’re giving ample time for people to find solutions to voluntarily comply.

“But in the end, you can adopt the alternative resolution in order to address concerns about housing, and the steps bylaw staff are taking to investigate complaints.”

Colbourne noted the standing resolution would still allow Bylaw Enforcement to take action on unlawful dwellings which presented a risk due to insufficient septic systems.

Dingman confirmed this. He described what happened on Salt Spring was a duplex was turned into a six-plex.

“On one septic system. It flooded the backyard. No doubt there was a health and safety issue.”

The discussion turned to the use of accessory buildings for residential use – which Dingman said is not what accessory buildings are intended for.

Dingman said, “I’m sure the accessory buildings where they can put in lawful kitchen and bathroom – are being rented out.

“It’s unlawful, but they are doing it. If they have the extra residential use that is not permitted, we’re going to tell them the use is unlawful.

“Someone can build a second dwelling. But…we can’t enforce, unless it is actually used as a residence.

“Someone will [build] the whole thing, so it has exceeded the density. But the advice is we can only enforce if there is an actual residential use. The fixtures in the building become irrelevant.”

Trustee Langereis asked for clarification on this, asking if someone built a cottage on a 2 acre lot, what would happen if that cottage is not used as a residence?

Dingman said, “someone doing that is increasing their density in doing that. But it comes down to use. So how do we enforce it, if it was never intended to be used?”

Langereis asked, “so what stops someone from building a cottage on a two acre lot without renting it out?”

Dingman said, “nothing. We would look at how it is being used….to call it a residence, someone needs to live there.”

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