Questions raised by Kelowna councillor about micro-suites

Coun. Luke Stack questions financial impact on city if micro-suites become "wave of the future."

A third proposal to build “micro suites” in Kelowna in the last few months has at least one city councillor calling for a review of city plans when it comes to encouraging the tiny rental units.

Coun. Like Stack said while he supports the latest proposal for a 24-unit development featuring the ultra-small apartments at the corner of Ethel Street and Glenwood Avenue, he has concerns about the impact more proposals could have on the city’s financial bottom line.

That’s because under provincial rules, micro suites are not subject to development cost charges. DCCs are used by the city to help pay for improvements to infrastructure surrounding a development, amenities such as roads, sidewalks, sewer and street lights.

“I wonder if this is a future trend,” Stack said at council’s regular weekly meeting Monday afternoon. “Maybe it’s something we need to revisit in our policies.”

He said his concern was not based on any opposition to more micro suites developments in the city but rather the city’s plans for infrastructure improvements based the current level of expected DCCs.

Developer Shane Worman wants to build two, two-storey walk-up buildings containing 12 units each on a small lot just north of the Cottonwoods care facility.

The units, expected to go on the rental market, would measure less than 320-square feet in size.

In recent weeks, the city has approved similar micro suite developments on Dickson Avenue, near the Landmark business buildings and near the UBCO Okanagan campus at the north end of the city.

Both of those developments may be popular with students of the university and Okanagan College who plan to live off campus.

The development planned for Ethel Street and Glenwood Avenue would include a parking lot with 24 stalls locate behind the buildings.

Visitor parking would have to be on Glenwood Avenue as Ethel is slated to become a major transportation route in future.

No on-site visitor parking is either required or planned for the development,say city planning department officials.

While the buildings fit with the zoning of the lot, the development will require a variance for its access off Ethel Street.

A public hearing on the proposal is slated for March 17 now that council has given it preliminary approval.