Too many carriage houses in Kelowna, not enough time - InfoNews

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Too many carriage houses in Kelowna, not enough time

A carriage house in downtown Kelowna.
January 24, 2018 - 4:33 PM

KELOWNA - Carriage houses are so popular now, Kelowna City Hall is considering not even bringing them to council for approval.

So ubiquitous are the back alley dwellings that planning staff at the city would like to divert carriage house applications away from the regular council meetings in a bid to save both themselves and city councillors some time.

Planner Terry Barton raised the issue with councillors last Monday when no fewer than 11 carriage house related items graced the agenda, each one requiring a rezoning application and the staff resources required to prepare them for presentation.

Community planning manager Ryan Smith said Kelowna residents have become used to carriage houses since their introduction as an option 16 years ago.

“There’s over 600 of them now and council supports 99 per cent of them. The regulations around them have been through years of review and fine tuning,” Smith said. “The containment of them is way better. The opportunity to build something really ugly and offensive isn’t there anymore.”

Smith said the volume of applications has been increasing — to 50 a year from 20 — at the same time as planning staff are dealing with a surge in high-profile multi-family projects and commercial developments.

“The volume of development applications we are processing is disproportionately high for a municipality of our size,” he said.

Staff discussions have centred around eliminating the need for a rezoning application in certain areas of the city, Smith said, or moving the applications to the public hearings held in the evenings.

While council has not asked for the change, Smith said he thinks they will be receptive given the hoped-for outcome.

“This would give staff the chance to focus on higher-profile developments and give them then attention they need,” Smith said. "It's also another impediment to building rental housing."

Mayor Colin Basran said he thinks council would welcome a proposal from staff to streamline the process.

“It’s certainly worth exploring. This is a form of housing council wants to see,” Basran said. “It may not make everyone happy but we rarely turn (carriage houses) down."

Read more stories on carriage houses.

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