Vernon adopts zoning bylaw to comply with provincial legislation

These changes align with the province’s Bill 44, Small Scale Multi-Unit Housing, and Bill 47, Transit Oriented Development Areas, which were both passed in the fall of 2023.

The City of Vernon had until June 30, 2024, to re-write its zoning to align with the provincial standards, and at the regular meeting Monday, June 24, Vernon City Council gave final readings and approval of the new Bylaw 6000.

During the meeting, Matt Faucher, a Vernon City Planner, noted this work could have taken between 18 to 24 months to complete, but managed to do it in time to meet the provincial deadline.

Speaking with Vernon Matters following Monday’s meeting, Mayor Victor Cumming stated the “complete rebuild” of Zoning Bylaw 5000 to 6000 is intended to streamline the application process and provide more flexibility for uses on a single property.

“So whatever matches a developer’s abilities, they’re going to have way more flexibility on the same site to produce what they think the market is asking for, and much less to-and-fro with both planners and council to try to narrow what it is they can do,” Cumming said.

“Historically, if they wanted to do something slightly different than what they can do in that zone, then [they’re] into the whole rezoning process just to adjust height or adjust the number of units. These are the things that you’ll have more flexibility by zone.”

Cumming noted this will create an easier process to build more units on a single property, though does not necessarily mean there would be an influx in density as this process could also see someone “down zone” and build less units than before without having to get approval from the city.

Cumming added he was impressed with the work by staff to complete the work in such a short period of time. Council also expressed similar thanks to staff during the meeting Monday.

Though adopted in time to meet the provincial legislative requirements, Cumming said there were still some aspects that needed to be worked out.

“The landscape chapter, on what you’re landscape requirements on the sight level, is missing. That’s pretty significant, so we’ve got to work on that,” Cumming told Vernon Matters.

“We’ve got a bunch of things related to setbacks and those kinds of things that need to be dialed in future versions, and descriptors and examples and a number of things that make it so when you pick it up ‘what does this mean?’ Historically there’d be a diagram and an understanding of how it relates to other things, those will be the add-ons just to make it clearer once you go through it.

“The other thing missing is form and character by neighbourhood. Some neighbourhoods are going to have a form and character different than other neighbourhoods, and those specifics have not been written at this point, where they were in the old zoning bylaw because they got built over time.”

Cumming said Council would be discussing these topics and making adjustments as needed in the coming months.

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