Town of Comox council (from left) Alex Bissinger, Ken Grant, Nicole Minions, Mayor Russ Arnott, Stephanie McGowan, Maureen Swift and Pat McKenna. Photo by Kim Stallknecht

Comox Council Briefs: Public hearing for streamlines secondary suites; heritage registry considered

Comox council heard from a handful of people in a public hearing Wednesday concerning an Official Community Plan and zoning amendment to allow coach houses in most single-family zones, as opposed to requiring a site by site rezoning for each.

The application (Comox OCP Amendment Bylaw 1908 and Comox Zoning Amendment Bylaw 1909) also included amending the zoning definition of a secondary suite to allow side-by-side secondary suites located beside the principal dwelling unit in addition to those located above or below the principal dwelling unit.

Additionally, it included the creation of a new Development Permit Area for side-by-side secondary suites.

Sue Magnusson – who underwent the process of creating a coach house – said the bylaw before and after the proposed amendment results in unfair hardship on homeowners with suites being unable to rent in both the home and suite together or separately.

“A homeowner with a suite is restricted and treated differently from other homeowners in Comox who can rent out their entire home.”

One Comox resident asked council to take a look at the needs of its residents, particularly those who are willing to rent out part of their homes.

“Perhaps look at the size requirements … we do need rentals. It’s a win-win station if we can get this process to go forward.”

Another resident told council the size of suites are important, as storage become a significant factor when renting.

“When we make small houses, we make Air BnBs, we don’t build livable spaces.”

Joanne Abbott noted she and her husband lived in a 750 square foot house in Comox and it was adequate.

“What do suites do to our property value? We moved here to retire and to buy nice homes, we want to keep it that way.”

The bylaws have received first and second readings, but have not been adopted by council.

• • •

Following a proposal from Coun. Stephanie McGowan, Comox council voted unanimously to obtain a staff report on the feasibility of creating a heritage registry in the Town of Comox.

Initially, McGowan put for a motion which asked for a registry to be established, that staff be authorized to submit required documents to the BC Heritage branch and that the Town consults Comox Archives and Museum about possible additions to the registry.

Coun. Ken Grant amended the motion to seek a staff report as a first step, which was passed.

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