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West Kelowna updates secondary suite bylaw, amnesty period expires

The District of West Kelowna will not be giving any more free ride extensions after a two-year amnesty period for the legalization of secondary suites ends Friday.

During the amnesty period, the $125 cost of registering secondary suites was waived to encourage residents to legalize suites on their own before potentially being ordered to.

“The time for amnesty is over, we’ve given people every opportunity to kick the can,” said Coun. Bryden Winsby.

A total of 113 people applied to legalize their suites over the amnesty period. Sixty-five of those applications have been approved, 47 are still being processed and one was cancelled.

During the same period from September, 2010 to August of this year, 364 complaints of illegal suites were brought to the district’s attention. Nearly 200 of those complaints were closed either due to unfounded complaints, decommissioning of illegal suites or application to legalize suites. The remaining 165 complaints are still being investigated.

The number of legalized suites in West Kelowna over the past two years is higher than the number nearby communities have been able to achieve. Since 2010, Vernon has only legalized 28 suites, while Penticton has legalized 27.

“I think this whole policy has been very positive,” said Coun. Duane Ophus.

“It’s way better than what most other municipalities have been able to do.”

Ophus commended the 65 residents who voluntarily registered their suites during the amnesty period.

Council approved several updates to the bylaw Tuesday.

First, they revised the registration requirement to a one-time $125 fee instead of an annual fee. If, however, the application is complaint-driven, the fee will double.

Councillors agreed to maintain a complaint-based enforcement approach to secondary suites and amended the Interior Health Authority septic field requirements to reflect current practices.

Other changes include removal of the requirement for owner occupancy, an alteration to the bylaw that Coun. Carol Zanon said is “integrally, essentially wrong.”

“I do firmly believe that the owner should be required to (live) in that home; otherwise, we’re creating a whole bunch of duplexes that were not planned for this community. I believe that it upsets the tranquility of some neighbourhoods,” said Zanon.

District staff will also examine the possibility of including secondary suites within the business licensing requirements.

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

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