West Kelowna residents will have a chance to voice their comments and concerns regarding several proposed zoning bylaw changes, which, in one way or another, will likely affect them.
Tuesday morning, council gave first and second reading to Official Community Plan amendments and second reading to a zoning bylaw that includes several changes.
Coun. Rick de Jong described the draft bylaw as “a radical overhaul” to the district’s existing zoning bylaw, which was inherited from the Regional District of the Central Okanagan and last substantially reviewed in 2000.
Zoning bylaws enable municipalities to regulate land use and implement the objectives of Official Community Plans.
“Every single property in the district is affected, in one way or another, through this process,” said Coun. Duane Ophus.
Council debated several changes found in the 173-page draft zoning bylaw, including the minimum parcel size in the agricultural zone.
On Oct. 8, during first reading, council narrowly voted to make the minimum parcel size eight hectares for land within the Agricultural Land Reserve in the A1 zone.
Coun. Gord Milsom challenged that decision Tuesday, suggesting the minimum parcel size should be four hectares.
“I’m thinking of the young individuals who want to get into the farming business,” said Milsom.
“Perhaps they can only afford a four-hectare property—this pretty well eliminates their entry into this industry.”
According to a report submitted by senior planner Dallas Clowes, there are currently only 19 parcels within the ALR, in the A1 zone, larger than eight hectares.
De Jong argued there are plenty of four-hectare parcels left for young farmers hoping to get into the industry.
“The problem is, for larger viable farms, there are not a lot of larger parcels left,” said de Jong.
“Those parcels are going to be gone if we don’t protect them now.”
Despite de Jong’s concerns, council reversed its decision Tuesday and opted to make the minimum parcel size four hectares in a 4-3 decision.
According to Mayor Doug Findlater, a “sleeper” issue may be the change in minimum parcel size in the single detached residential zone (R1) from 700-square-metres to 550.
“If you have a lot of 1,100-square-metres, provided it meets all the other requirements, you could subdivide it quietly—just bring in a surveyor, register it with the district and build another house,” said Findlater.
He said the change will likely allow several properties in Lakeview Heights and Glenrosa to subdivide.
“You could see a fairly big increase in density. Upside: More housing, more tax base, the homeowner who can do that will benefit—it’s increased the value of their property.
“Downside: Greater density in the neighbourhood without a lot of discussion, except through this bylaw.”
Findlater said he is concerned residents won’t realize the bylaw will affect them until it’s too late.
“Some people hear zoning bylaw and their eyes glaze over. (But) it applies to everyone—that’s the concern about this kind of very large, overarching bylaw.”
De Jong added residents in Westbank and Boucherie Centres should pay special attention to the proposed zoning changes.
Under the draft zoning bylaw, Westbank Centre would be rezoned to compact residential (RC1) to permit single detached houses, secondary suites, duplexes and townhouses. The recommendation stems from the Westbank Centre Revitalization Plan, to enable opportunities for infill development and more affordable housing.
Boucherie Centre would become compact residential (RC2).
“We’ve got individuals who are going to be subject to a rezoning of their property from R1 to RC1,” said de Jong.
“They’re the ones who are going to be impacted the most.”
The district plans to do a mass mail out, informing citizens of an upcoming public hearing to discuss the draft zoning bylaw.
The public hearing will be held Nov. 26 at 6 p.m., either in council chambers (2760 Cameron Road) or a nearby venue, depending on attendance.
“The message is: There are major changes—show up and be heard,” said Ophus.
To view the draft zoning bylaw, visit districtofwestkelowna.ca.