Qualicum Beach council has given third reading on a zoning amendment application for a property that would allow construction of six rural rental cottages.
The application was made by Dean and Mary Anne Dreger, who plan to construct a long-term affordable rental housing project called Beach Creek Cottage Court on their five-acre property, located in the intersection of Nenzel Road and Qualicum Road.
The current zoning permits two single-family homes and two garden suites or secondary suites for a total of four dwelling units.
A virtual public hearing was held on Oct. 14 to give third reading to the application to rezone the property from Rural A3 to Rural A4, a new zoning that permits single-family dwellings, secondary suites, garden suites and rural rental cottages. It was created under Bill 23 the B.C. government legislated in 2018.
Director of planning Luke Sales said it will be a first for the town.
“It gives municipalities the ability to zone residential tenure under specific circumstances,” Sales explained. “So essentially what that means is that the rental rural cottages would not ever be able to be sold. They would be retained as rental and there would be no option short of a zoning amendment in the future.”
The town received 15 submissions from residents regarding the zoning amendment. Four were in favour with 11 against.
Some residents raised concerns about the impact on the Beach Creek watershed.
There were those who indicated tat the project contravenes the town’s Official Community Plan and Urban Containment Boundary. There were also those who asked why there no public consultation was held. One resident indicated that there is no guarantee that the housing would be truly affordable.
Dean Dreger expressed frustration with misinformation against his project.
Sales said when they reviewed the application they looked at many other relevant policies in the OCP. He also called it a pilot project.
“This proposal is innovative in its approach and would provide the town with rental housing,” said Sales. “It meets some of the policies in the OCP while conflicting with the others. As a result, policies specifying no growth in the area must be weighed against policies that support innovative approaches to housing.”
He said an alternative approach is to extend the urban containment boundary but added it’s not an ideal solution.
“I think it would send a very different message to landowners in this area and perhaps in other rural areas,” said Sales. “If you extend the urban containment boundary, what you’re doing is saying, ‘this is where urban growth is intended’. That’s very different than allowing a small cluster of housing. It’s very different. There’s a distinction between the two.”
Town council unanimously voted in favour of giving the zoning amendment third reading. Adoption was not granted due to some outstanding issues.