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Kelowna 'pre-zoning' hundreds of single family homes for fourplexes to meet housing demand

Fourplexes will be coming to more Kelowna neighbourhoods soon.
Fourplexes will be coming to more Kelowna neighbourhoods soon.

Hundreds if not thousands of single-family lots in Kelowna will be "pre-zoned" likely by the end of the year to allow fourplexes to be built.

In 2017, the city pre-zoned about 700 lots for that purpose between downtown and the Pandosy area but it plans to expand that greatly this fall.

“We don’t have a target number of lots in place,” City of Kelowna planner specialist Daniel Sturgeon told “There’s lots of situations where it doesn’t work because it’s commercial land uses or off transit corridors or it’s mixed use. That’s not the kind of development we’re looking at. We’re looking at what people have already seen in the community of replacing one house, in most cases, with four.”

The idea is to increase housing stock by allowing up to four units on each lot in the “core area neighbourhoods” surrounding the city’s five urban centres.

What that means in reality is a huge swath of the city stretching from North Glenmore Road and Rutland to south of Mission Creek.

All areas of Kelowna within the black outline on the map are up for consideration.
All areas of Kelowna within the black outline on the map are up for consideration.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/City of Kelowna

Right now, 90% of housing is being built in five urban centres: downtown, Capri-Landmark, Midtown/Orchard Park, Rutland and Pandosy.

In the neighbourhoods under consideration, 90% are zoned single-family but according to data provided on the city’s Get Involved page, only 10% of Kelowna residents can afford to buy them at today’s prices.

There are 8,000 single-family lots in that area, including the 700 that are already pre-zoned for fourplexes.

Sturgeon would not speculate on how many will be appropriate for the zoning change but those details should be known by the end of the year.

When the first lots were pre-zoned, prices on those properties skyrocketed. With a significant increase in the number of available lots, Sturgeon doesn’t expect the impact on prices for this next round to be so large.

For now, the public is being asked to fill out an online survey that asks three basic questions, none of which deal with where these lots should be allowed.

One asks about the objectives of infill housing that are most important to residents, such as more density on each lot, more diversity, incentives for rental options and making it easier to build them.

READ MORE: Fourplex plan creates a 'wealth windfall' for single-family home owners: expert

Another asks whether denser housing should be allowed near transit, whether they should blend in with existing housing, whether trees should be preserved and streetscapes improved with curbs, gutters and sidewalks.

The third question points out that increasing density will affect parking, green space and yard space.

It asks people to choose between preserving parking, green space or allowing taller buildings that cover less of each lot.

There is a fourth, open ended, question asking how the city can encourage more infill housing and a fifth area for comments.

The deadline for completing the survey is Oct. 14. It can be taken here.

Once the surveys are tabulated, Sturgeon hopes to have bylaws taken to council shortly after to make the changes.

The one possible thorn in the side of the whole exercise is that the province is planning to introduce legislation this fall along the same lines.

Early suggestions were the province would make it mandatory to allow up to four units on all single-family lots in the province. There has been some pushback from communities who don’t have the infrastructure in place to make those changes.

READ MORE: Kamloops city councillor pushing back against BC housing land use control

Sturgeon hopes to have the city’s changes in place before the province.

“At the very least, we would have our framework in place and we would be able to pivot in response,” he said.

The Get Involved page points out that over the next 10 years 18,750 to 26,470 new homes are needed in the city with a target of 25% of those to be infill housing in the core area neighbourhoods.

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