Abandon Proposed Bylaw 512 - It Isn't Part of the Housing Solution

At the January 28th Public Hearing for Bylaw 512, several members of the public criticized the bylaw as ineffective at achieving its stated goal of increasing the supply of long-term, rental housing. Representatives from Salt Spring Solutions spoke-up in opposition to the current iteration of Bylaw 512. They believe the bylaw is too limited and onerous to make any real impact, and that Trust resources should be redirected to other housing work.

They noted that the recommendations they had submitted to improve the effectiveness of Bylaw 512 in October 2019 had not been integrated. In fact, few of the housing solutions requested by a coalition of island groups that includes Salt Spring Solutions, the Chamber of Commerce, Transition Salt Spring and the Housing Council have been made it onto any of the Islands Trust actions plans or project lists.

About 150 people rallied in front of the Islands Trust Office on November 22, 2019 in support of housing solutions and over 900 residents have signed a petition asking for immediate action on the Housing Crisis.

In detail, here are the housing solutions submitted to the Islands Trust by Salt Spring Solutions which should be part of the solutions for more local, affordable housing:

Housing/Climate Actions the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee Can Take Now

  1. Create a Senior Planner position that is dedicated to affordable and sustainable housing projects, policies and bylaws on Salt Spring Island. (ie. cottages, suites and multi-unit housing solutions for families, workforce, youth and seniors, etc.)
  2. Address implementation issues with proposed Bylaw 512 - Affordable Housing - Cottages
    1. Option 1 (preferred): Abandon proposed Bylaw 512 and amend OCP to allow for the term “seasonal” to be removed from the Land Use Bylaw. Update Land Use Bylaw to enable cottages island-wide on properties where a sustainable, alternative water supply can be proven.
    2. Option 2: Revise proposed Bylaw 512
    3. Provide incentives within the mapped R(f) zones for provision of rental housing that is rent-controlled.
    4. Provide incentives within the mapped R(f) zones for "alternative sources" of potable water for cottages.
    5. Remove floor area limit based arbitrarily on lot sizes, and return floor area limits to general regulations.
    6. Consider removal or revision of item 2.2 (8) (as written, April 2019) to allow appropriately-sized stratas within R(f) zones. (See recommendation #7 in Affordable Housing Strategic Actions report, January 2019)
    7. In order to maximize the potential impact and uptake of allowing year round use of only 400 of some 1300 properties currently zoned for a “ seasonal” cottage, we propose that the permitted use be granted on a first come first serve basis to applicants who meet a basic set of criteria:
      • Notice of Intent to rent cottage on a full time basis
      • Proof of sufficient water supply and safe waste management. The water supply must be from a sustainable alternative source if property is located in an area with known supplies issue
      • Commitment to build and/or rent cottage within a reasonable time frame
  1. Review and update Secondary Suites Bylaw 461:
    1. Amend the 1200 L/d suite internal water requirement to a per bedroom rate that is the same or similar to cottage "proof of sufficient supply" that is in current practice at the CRD Building Office.
    2. State explicitly that use of stored rainwater for secondary suites, with suitable plumbing is permitted following rainwater storage and use guidelines, including Bylaw 461 properties that fall within North Salt Spring Waterworks District (NSSWD)
    3. Stipulate in Bylaw 461 that suites in accessory buildings are a possibility in all or designated appropriate zones.
    4. Designate zones in Bylaw 461 for caretaker suites within commercial buildings in appropriate "village" areas of Salt Spring Island.
    5. Advocate for an amendment to the NSSWD water moratorium to enable the construction of secondary suites and caretaker suites that use water alternative sources within the NSSWD service area
    6. Expand the area of eligible properties for a secondary suite to areas within current and potential bus routes, and areas of known abundant ground or surface water supply. Consider creating a target number of suites that can be applied for on a first come first serve basis according to a set criteria as suggested above (see 2.e)
  2. Develop a new bylaw to enact a zoning model that goes by the name "Ecovillage" or "Home Plate" in other jurisdictions.
    1. In essence, the residential/commercial land uses are designated within a footprint of the total lot area and remaining lot area is put into protection/conservation covenant.
    2. Allows for clustered housing for 1 principal residence and 2 or more secondary dwellings (suite, cottage, tiny homes, farmworker housing) as well as specified food production or other home-based business/commercial uses.
    3. Pre-existing DPAs apply.
    4. Floor area ratio for dwellings and/or number of secondary dwellings could increase in a manner that matches lot size increases. (ie. Either greater total floor area allocated to secondary residence, or a number and type of secondary residences stipulated in the bylaw).
    5. In other regions, such zoning models give the landowner "eco-credits" (also known as "density bonus in exchange for amenities") (e.g. rainwater use, permaculture design, zero energy, composting toilets, etc.).
  1. Create local "Rainwater Harvesting and Use Guidelines".For potable and non-potable uses of rainwater across all land use zones, and in approved dwellings (and any water deemed as "greywater").
  2. Undertake locally-adapted actions based on the 2019 Islands Trust Affordable Housing Strategic Actions report
  3. Identify resources and publicly communicate a timeline for updating the Official Community Plan and Land Use Bylaw. It is time to undertake comprehensive updates of the Official Community Plan (OCP) and Land Use Bylaw (LUB) because:
    1. The OCP and LUB were adopted in 2008 and 1999 respectively. The LUB does not successfully implement the existing OCP. Both documents are out-of-date. They have only remained current through piecemeal amendments that fail to comprehensively integrate new legislation and best practices in land use planning, conservation, transportation or housing.
    2. Neither documents prioritize the Housing Crisis or Climate Emergency. Setting strong direction and providing a greater level of detail is required to make the meaningful, timely and lasting changes we need.
    3. Salt Spring Island is over 2 years out from the referendum on incorporation which was both decisive and divisive. It’s time to come back together as a whole community to renew our vision for tackling important issues while protecting this island we all hold dear.
  4. Advocate loudly and persistently at the regional Trust Council and to senior staff at the Islands Trust head office in Victoria for sustainable, affordable housing to be recognized and resourced as a regional planning priority.

Substantial background research and analysis that supports implementation of actions #1 - #6 is already completed by Islands Trust staff and/or professional consultants (see References below plus staff reports related to bylaws 461 and 512). Further planning studies are not required. All we need to make real change is leadership and dedicated resources.

Salt Spring News

By Salt Spring News

Salt Spring Exchange news and editorial account for general public news, community contributed stories and official news releases.

January 29, 2020 9:21 PM

Community Comments

  • Avatar Dal Brickenden says:

    Rome was not built in a day.

    There is simply no way all these thoughts (many of which are very fine and worthy) can be brought together in a single effort.

    Do not place disincentives to investment (like rent control and the Provincial absence of renewable term leases) that are already scaring off existing landlords let alone those yet to make the build or renovation investment.

    The very people you hope will fund expansion of the housing market (both for sale or for rent) need to be assured of the potential for their investment to meet their needs, not just today, but in 5 and 10 or 20 years and on the day they wish to sell b

    You cannot demand that owner / investors continuously run a B&B forever or never or that they may only rent long term forever or that they must use the facilities only for 45 days or fewer than 28 or only for family members.

    Use restriction make up a very large part of the failings in both 355 and 512. Use restrictions mess with the value of owners nest egg. Do that or just hint at that and NOTHING gets built.

    Lastly. Not everything that gets built on Salt Spring needs to be affordable by your standard for it to benefit all levels of the market. After all, a rising tide floats all ships.

    400 new units of any reasonable quality on SSI would inspire a HUGE movement in the marketplace. Everyone that moves into new digs leaves an empty space behind them for those not quite ready for the new units.

    Sent from my iPhone

  • Avatar PMac says:

    Very good, sound, pertinent comments. Thank you.

  • Avatar J Cade says:

    I am relieved to see a substantial backlash to the proposed Bylaw 512 as written. Typically Islands Trust has spent an enormous amount of staff and planners time to come up with a very convoluted solution to a simple problem. Part of the challenge of providing more rental housing is the BC Tenancy regulations. People are terrified of getting stuck in the vortex of dealing with tenants rights. If they just made a change to allow any properties with the current rights to use or build a cottage according to the current size restrictions of the approx. 1300 potential cottages, I am betting less than 10% of the people would opt for full time rentals. As was suggested by one person, just make it a first come first serve basis.

    I do like lifting the size restrictions of a cottage for properties over 2 Hectares.

    Yes, full time living will probably use more water than B&B use of a seasonal cottage. Not as much as a full sized house but still an increase in use. Currently Bylaw 355 has water supply guidelines for various uses. Just add a new quantity requirement for full time rental of a cottage. More than a seasonal cottage but not as much as a full sized residence. If people nee to supplement the source they currently have then rainwater catchment is a very viable option. Don't make it mandatory. If you have a large capacity well then forcing Rainwater Catchment is a punitive investment that will stop most people from participating.

    Remember, the goal is to create more rental supply. If the rules are so restrictive that owner will not participate, the proposal is then a failure.

    John Cade

  • Avatar dodo0953 says:

    per usual, it's all about the money.Whatever happened to homes, not investments/revenue streams?

  • Avatar Gardner says:

    After listening to the planner and his analysis of the proposed 512 Bylaw, at the recent Meadon Hall meeting, with the high hopes that 400 cottages will come out of the woodwork and become happy long term affordable homes, l couldn't help but remember the planners' high hopes for a similar result from the pilot programme for legalization of secondary suites on the island. After a similar amount of expensive brouhaha and planning bravado how many new, "legal suites" resulted? I believe the answer is ten! I foresee a similar result in the present 512 fiasco.

    With new cottage construction slated at $400,000 by one speaker last Tuesday, Drinking water from the rain?--slated at $20,000-- together with legal fees well over $1000, the average Saltspringer is laughing you out of court.

  • Avatar Dal Brickenden says:

    Let me call upon mystical abilities to hazard three guesses. One, you are not a home owner. Two, you are not trying to figure out how to support yourself in your old age. Three, someone else is supporting you &/or you think someone else should support you.