At Monday’s Qualicum Beach council meeting, council voted for staff to create a bylaw amendment to prohibit strata councils from restricting people based on age or family composition. — Lauren Collins photo

Qualicum Beach council hopes to end strata age restrictions

Councillor doesn’t want to come down “heavy handed” on strata councils

Future strata age restrictions in Qualicum Beach may soon be a thing of the past if council has a say in it.

In a four-to-one vote, with Coun. Barry Avis voting against the motion, council directed staff to propose an amendment bylaw that would “prohibit strata corporations’ bylaws or rules referring to the age or family composition of persons who may reside in a dwelling unit, without council approval.”

The amendment would apply only to future developments.

Coun. Neil Horner first brought forward the notice of motion at the July 17 council meeting.

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At Monday’s (Aug. 21) regular council meeting, Horner said his motion “stirred up a hornet’s nest in this town.” He said some people congratulated him on introducing the motion, while from others he received angry comments.

He said strata age restrictions are age discrimination, adding it wouldn’t be allowed if young people told “old people” where they can and can’t live.

“A community without children is nothing more than a dead end street, and I don’t want Qualicum Beach to take that road,” Horner told the council chamber. “A community includes young, old, men and women — everybody. Yes, we have a great many seniors here and that’s great; I’m taking care of one of them myself. However, they should not have the right to tell younger people where they can and cannot live in Qualicum Beach.”

Coun. Anne Skipsey asked staff whether or not council has the authority to implement such a bylaw and whether or not this is more effective than an age-restriction covenant, which council has been implenting recently on a case-by-case basis.

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Planning director Luke Sales said council has wide discretion when it comes to implementing land-use controls. He also said staff has had legal consultation on this, but it is somewhat unusual for a municipality to take this extra step.

“It’s fairly clear the court would uphold this,” Sales said.

As for covenants, Sales said, they are viable, but they needed to be repeated every time a proposal comes forward.

“Whereas if a change is made across the board, such as redefining residential (zoning), it would be widespread and there would be no need to repeat it for every instance of development,” he said.

Council may still give special permission to developments requesting age restrictions, on a case-by-case basis, Sales said.

Avis said he wouldn’t be voting for the motion since he said there is a complete mix of ages in town, and it’s unecessary to come down heavy-handed on strata councils.

“A lot of strata don’t start off as just a seniors’ strata. It’s usually proposed by the strata and the strata is a makeup of the residents that live there. For that reason, I believe that they have the right to do that,” Avis said.

The next council meeting will be held Sept. 11 at 7 p.m.