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Relieving Kelowna's housing pressures in its own backyards

Pictured in this file photo is a carriage house in Kelowna. The strategy to streamline the carriage house application process seems to be working.
Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
February 24, 2017 - 2:30 PM

KELOWNA - When the City of Kelowna decided in 2011 to make it easier for homeowners to build carriage houses and secondary suites, the hope was to spur some small-scale development and create new homes in existing neighbourhoods.

Six years later, carriage houses remain a popular opportunity for homeowners. Already this year, council has approved six applications — nearly one per week. That’s consistent with 2016 when the city approved 45 permits, also roughly the average for each year since 2011, the city says. That means homes for potentially hundreds of people.

A carriage house is typically a second house on an existing residential lot, versus a secondary suite which is within the main residence.  

Councillor Gail Given considers the strategy successful for improving infill housing for the city. 

"I believe it's working the way we intended, we haven't had any complaints so at the moment we're not concerned," she says.

Kelowna has long had a vacancy rate between zero and one per cent — four per cent is considered healthy — and some rental classes are nearly nonexistent. In 2011, the city also made it easier for homeowners to create or declare secondary suites because they no longer had to apply for rezoning in a residential zone.

You still need to rezone most properties for a carriage house, but you don't need to apply for a development permit. Reducing red tape to build carriage houses seems to make sense for both homeowners and a city trying to relieve some rental pressure.

“The majority of these applications are so the applicant can provide a home for their family,” Given says. “Often, a carriage house is used for elderly parents or grandparents, or to give kids the option of moving out, while staying close to home.”

Carriage houses aren't without their difficulties in neighbourhoods, particularly with build quality and design. But city planning manager Ryan Smith says many of those issues are mitigated by the B.C. Building Code and other regulations. 

"In most cases the quality of submissions were good," Smith said. "There are so many regulations it's hard to go wrong and build something bad now."


To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Hickman or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
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