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Housing rules scrutinized in affordability review

Housing rules scrutinized in affordability review

The Sunshine Coast Regional District is reviewing land use planning policies in its rural areas, with the goal of increasing the supply of affordable housing in neighbourhoods that are already serviced and close to transportation.

At the Planning and Community Development Committee meeting of June 8, regional directors accepted staff’s recommendation to start drafting changes to the Official Community Plans (OCPs) for the five rural areas, with the goal of making housing options both more flexible and consistent.

Yuli Siao, Senior Planner, presented staff’s recommendations to the board, emphasizing that there are already opportunities to increase density in the rural areas under the existing zoning because lots that are 2,000 to 4,000 square metres (half an acre to one acre) and larger are permitted to have a second dwelling on the property.

When SCRD staff investigated, they found that only about 10 per cent of these residential lots currently have second dwellings, leaving about 2,200 properties with the potential for infill without the need for changes to zoning or new roads and water services.

Staff will update OCP policies to encourage the development of cluster housing in designated village cores. Current policies do not make allowance for small-lot development, alternative building design (such as tiny houses) or advanced sewage treatment technology.

They noted that mobile home parks, which are already permitted, provide affordable housing, and similar models of small, modular or pre-fabricated homes on small lots should also be considered.

Area F Director Ian Winn, asked why the Twin Creeks OCP area (north of Langdale on the road to Port Mellon) had been excluded from the report. “I realize that it is a transitional area between rural residential and industrial but there are some larger pieces of rural residential land in there that might be under consideration,” said Winn.

Manager of Planning and Development, Andrew Allen, responded that the primary goal in Twin Creeks and Hillside is to “promote and protect the industrial and forestry land base,” and that “affordable housing should be focused in affordable locations with water service, fire protection and transit.”

However, Winn pointed out that housing is needed “in proximity to where the jobs are,” and asked that Twin Creeks not be ruled out.

Staff will prepare OCP amendment bylaws and bring them back to the SCRD Planning Committee before the end of September.

Donna McMahon

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