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Regional District to tighten up building decommissioning policy

FILE PHOTO - The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen is looking at tightening up legislation regarding the decommissioning of buildings in order to prevent their continued use as dwelling units.
February 15, 2016 - 10:37 AM

PENTICTON - The question of when is a residence not a residence was a topic of discussion by the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen Board of Directors recently.

Regional District planning supervisor Chris Garrish made a powerpoint presentation to board members at a Planning and Development Committee meeting, providing examples of how residents continue to circumvent the regional district’s dwelling decommissioning requirements in order to continue using the buildings as dwelling units. He showed several photographs of buildings being inspected for decommissioning, the only thing missing preventing normal dwelling use being a kitchen stove.

Garrish said development services staff routinely encounter situations where a secondary suite, carriage house or accessory dwelling is the obvious intended use, but the applicant tries to circumvent zoning regulations by playing a renaming game, calling bedrooms, living areas and kitchens other rooms, such as storage areas, studios and shops.

Under the Regional District’s present legislation, many developers use the removal of the building’s kitchen stove as reason enough to consider the building decommissioned, something easily restored after an inspection.

Staff recommended the present requirements for building decommissioning be replaced and zoning bylaws modified to remove loopholes and clarify the purpose of accessory building and structures definitions.

“When is a residence not a residence?” chief administrative officer Bill Newell asked the board. “In our case, it’s when there’s no stove.”

He said the Regional District’s present legislation wasn’t working, and it was time to take another look at the legislation.

Garrish said the Regional District had tried to accommodate people, but residents kept pushing the limits. He noted the resulting higher population densities were detrimental on certain properties that had limited septic facilities or soil porosity issues.

The board agreed to have staff initiate a review of the Decommissioning of a Dwelling Unit policy ,in addition to making amendments to the Electoral Area zoning bylaws.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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