Micro-suites put in their place by Kelowna council

Council limits placement of the ultra-small living units to the city's town centres and around the UBCO campus.

Micro-suites have found a place in Kelowna—in the city’s five town centres and at UBCO.

With three developments already approved and now under construction, city council has decided to limit where the ultra-compact living spaces can be built in Kelowna.

“Council recognized that residents of units that small will likely not have vehicles and would be best served by (being located close to) transit,” said city planner Ryan Smith.

He said putting micro-suites—which have raised concern by some councillors because, unlike other forms of residential development, they do not generate development cost charges—in area where there is transit, services already exist and there is established development which makes sense because of the size of the units.

Development cost charges are paid by developers to the city to help finance city infrastructure associated with their developments, such as roads, drainage, sewers and street lighting.

Under provincial law, micro-suites are exempt from DCCs.

According to the city’s new bylaw, micro-suites cannot exceed 29-square-metres, or about 300-square-feet.

Smith said, according to his research, the only other municipality that is considering regulating the development of micro-suites is Surrey and it has yet to act.

He added that while the lack of DCC revenue from micro-suites has been an issue, it was not a determining factor in the decision to limit them to the downtown, Rutland centre, Orchard Park, South Pandosy, Capri Centre and UBCO areas.

The DCC issue, he said, will be looked at when the city reviews its DCC plan in 2017.

“A broad mix of housing types in any community is a good thing,” said Smith, adding with Kelowna’s low vacancy rate there is likely to be a place for them in the local housing market.

But he doesn’t envision not see them becoming a large part of the Kelowna housing mix.

Prior to ruling they could only be built in the city’s five town centre areas and the area around the UBCO campus, council approved three micro-suite developments in the city—one at Ethel Street and Glenwood Avenue, one near UBCO and one on Dickson Avenue, near the Landmark office towers.

The three developments are slated to have a total of 300 units.