Qualicum Beach council gives 3 readings to zoning bylaw amendment

Qualicum Beach council has given three readings to zoning amendments that will align it with the provincial government’s Bill 44 housing legislation.

The amendments were presented to council at its regular meeting on May 29 and are now a step closer to adoption, which the town needs to achieve by June 30.

Town planner Luke Sales indicated they have been working intensively on the town’s response to Bill 44 Housing Statutes in the last six months, with the help of Westplan Consulting Group.

“It’s a comprehensive amendment and update to the town’s zoning bylaw as well as the introduction of two bylaws — one for the planning advisory commission and one for the board of variance,” said Sales.

Bill 44, cited by consultant Teunesha Evertse, is the elimination of single detached housing in the town’s land use zoning bylaw and will allow secondary suites in the municipality.

It means, in areas within Qualicum Beach’s Growth Containment Boundary (GCB) serviced by the town’s water and sanitary services, three units can be built on lots under 280 square metres and four units on lots between 280and 4,000 square metres.

READ MORE: Parksville prepares new housing bylaw to meet provincial mandate

As well, the new legislation eliminated public hearings for residential development that exceeds half of the total floor area of the project and is consistent with the town’s OCP.

Evertse stressed the town cannot hold any public hearing for the zoning bylaw amendment currently being undertaken.

Sales pointed out when Bill 44 was first introduced, there were concerns expressed by residents on the negative impact of increased density will have on the community. That has changed dramatically, said Sales, after careful review of the statute.

“Some of the benefits would include the allowance of density and building forms that our residents specifically asked for and indicated in the past,” Sales explained. “So for example, in the 2018 Quality of Life Survey, our residents indicated they’d like to see townhouses, patio homes, secondary suites, garden suites, carriage houses most of which are not currently permitted on residential zoning.”

Sales said the legislation has prompted the town to proactively permit some of those land uses residents indicated they favour.

Among the proposed changes in the zoning bylaw being introduced include designating properties outside the village neighbourhood close to the commercial core to Residential 1 (R1), which allows higher dwelling and lowering the standards for setbacks. Those properties within the village area will be referred to as Residential 2 (R2).

Other amendments include deletion of unneeded residential zones, updating the town’s outdated definition section, and new development permit area section called ‘Interim Residential Designation Guidelines,” which will require developments with two-to-four dwellings units follow a list of characteristics that is compatible to the neighbourhood.

The amendments would undergo legal review, clarifying any ambiguities and correcting errors and will be referred to the Ministry of Transportation.

Sales expect the amendment bylaw to be adopted by council at the June 26 meeting. The town also needs to fulfil its housing needs report by January 2025 and update its Official Community Plan (OCP) by Dec. 30, 2025 to align with the zoning changes.

Prior to giving three readings to the zoning amendment, council had a long discussion over concerns Sales said they will incorporate when the bylaw comes up for adoption.

Council also gave three readings to two new bylaws, the Town of Qualicum Beach Advisory Planning Commission Bylaw and the Board of Variance Bylaw.

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