I wonder how many Rosslanders realize that their ability to have input on changes to zoning and housing in their neighbourhoods will be drastically curtailed next Monday, Nov. 14 unless a significant number of us object?
Staff and Council are proposing a major re-write of the present Zoning Bylaw. While the changes address the commendable goals of making smaller, less expensive housing available within the community, they also propose to make automatic the permission for multi-family housing in the present RS1 (single family) zone.
In approximately the central half of the community the present RS1 zone will be changed for most properties to the new R1-I(Infill) zone. For the details of the changes, please visit http://www.rossland.ca/zoning-1 and download “Zoning Bylaw 2518”, about one-third of the way down the page. The proposed new R1-I rules start on its page 46.
Several new forms of multi-family occupancy of a single lot are now to be permitted without any further community input. These include duplexes (Two Family Detached Dwelling), secondary suites (Detached Secondary Suite Dwelling) and multiple dwellings within one former shell (Multiple Conversion Dwelling). Simultaneously, the parking requirements of the former RS1 zone are significantly reduced and lot coverage percents are allowed to increase. Density and parking issues will certainly increase and there will be no further chance for neighbourhood input!
I feel that is Council’s duty to preserve the form and character of neighbourhoods into which existing residents have invested so much in time, money and effort with the expectation of no material change without significant consultation and hearing input.
Reviewing the proposed R1-I zone, I accept that it could be a reasonable approach to achieving goals of lower-cost housing in terms of its definition and scope. I do, however, object to it being arbitrarily applied to large swaths of the existing RS1 residential area, aborting any further neighbour input.
To me, it makes much more sense if the proposed R1-I zone were created in form only, without the proposed large “ring” of presently RS-1 zoned properties being immediately placed into this new and untested zoning. My suggestion is that the zoning be available for an owner to use after the usual rezoning process but without bypassing due process. The purpose of this change would be to allow those most affected by the zoning change (immediate neighbours) to learn what was being proposed on a site-by-site basis and then express their approval, concerns or opposition during a normal rezoning hearing.
Citizens have one last chance to make their opinions known at a Bylaw hearing at City Hall, 7 p.m. Nov. 14. If no one objects we will have no one to blame for significant changes to our neighbourhoods but ourselves.
I suggest we ask that this traditional and important safety mechanism be retained, not discarded for the sake of expediency! If it does pass, you might want to think about re-electing Councillors who vote to bypass the expected process.