A new bylaw amendment in Qualicum Beach could potentially make housing more accesible to families and youth.
At Monday’s (Sept. 11) council meeting, council passed first reading of a new bylaw that would change the definition of “dwelling unit” to prevent strata corporations from restricting residency by age or family composition.
Coun. Barry Avis, who asked for a recorded vote for first reading, was the only councillor to vote “no”.
Avis previously said he wouldn’t support a bylaw amendment on strata age restrictions because he said he believes strata don’t start off with an age restriction, but is usually proposed by the people living in the strata. He has also said the B.C. Human Rights Code states “you cannot discriminate against a person attempting to purchase a property on account of their race, colour, religion, or sexual orientation,” but the code does not restrict discrimination based on age.
Luke Sales, planning director, said some of the considerations that led to the development of this policy include the fact that the town has established a goal in the Official Community Plan (which is in a review period) on retaining families and youth to live in Qualicum Beach and the lack of housing that is attainable by most working families.
“Age restrictions put an artificial constraint on the availability of housing units in the town, impacting both the price and selection,” Sales said.
Sales said the approach of this bylaw has been crafted to accommodate existing strata corporations with age restrictions. He said those strata with existing age restrictions will be notified by the town of the bylaw amendment, and if the strata council would like to be exempted from the new bylaw, they can notify the town in writing and it will be incorporated into the bylaw for future readings.
Council also passed that town staff contact the multi-family developments in town about the bylaw amendment if they wish to maintain the existing strata bylaws which will then be referred to the Oct. 18 committee of the whole meeting.
In a report from Sales, he wrote it’s challenging to quantify exactly how many dwellings in the town are subject to age restrictions because it would require a review of every strata bylaw within the town. Preliminary estimates, Sales wrote, of the number of dwellings subject to age restrictions indicate up to 500 units, representing more than 10 per cent of the total number of dwelling units in the town.
Coun. Neil Horner first brought forward the motion to “prohibit strata corporation bylaws or rules referring to the age or family composition of persons who may reside in a dwelling unit without council approval” at the July 17 regular council meeting. At the time, the amendment would apply only to future developments.