A motion to adopt the Unrestricted Residential bylaw at last Monday’s (Jan. 29) Qualicum Beach council meeting failed.
However, the motion failed because Coun. Neil Horner brought forward new information about how the Government of Alberta has changed its Human Rights Act to prohibit age discrimination in protected areas of goods, services, accommodation or facilities in sections 4 and 5.
Horner said he thought the updates to the Alberta Human Rights Act are important and useful information. Prior to having final adoption of the Unrestricted Residential bylaw, Horner said third reading should be rescinded and there should be another public hearing.
After the initial motion failed, Qualicum Beach council unanimously rescinded third reading and scheduled a public hearing for Feb. 19 at the council chambers.
“I’ve been doing a little reading since the last time we met, and one of the things I read is that the Province of Alberta is currently changing its laws in order to prevent age discrimination in the area of tenancy,” Horner said.
Horner said council should take the successful challenge through the charter into account for the town’s proposed bylaw.
The Unrestricted Residential bylaw would change the definition of “dwelling unit” to prevent strata corporations from restricting residency by age or family composition.
The changes to the Alberta Human Rights Act came into effect Jan. 1, 2018 after a court order the Alberta government consented to on Jan. 6, 2017. In section 5, it would prohibit discrimination regarding tenancy, including commercial tenancy and residential rental accommodations.
“(Alberta) chose not to dispute the challenge and was given a year to amend its Human Rights Act to prohibit age discrimination when providing goods and services or tenancy,” Horner said.
There are exceptions to the changes to the Alberta Human Rights Act such as benefits for seniors and minors; seniors-only housing; and existing age-restricted condominiums, co-operative housing units and mobile home sites.
The minimum age cut-off for seniors-only housing is 55 years of age and communities can set age restrictions that are older than 55 years of age as well. Existing age‑restricted condominiums, co‑operatives and mobile home sites will be allowed for a 15‑year transition period and existing age-restricted condominiums, co-operatives and mobile home sites may change to seniors-only housing during the transition period.