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Council Exploring Universal Secondary Suite Bylaw in Cranbrook

Cranbrook City Council would like to see a universal bylaw and policy for the approval of secondary suites, in an effort to streamline the application process and eliminate red tape.

On Monday, City Council voted 3-3 against Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 3986, which defeated the first reading for an application from Living-Stones Developments to change 1513 Mt. Royal Ridge from R-1 (Single Family Extended Residential Zone) to CD-8 (Comprehensive Development Zone 8: Single Family Residential – Secondary Suite).

Although City Council expressed that they weren’t opposed to the specific application by Living-Stones Developments to build a legal secondary suite located above the property’s attached multi-car garage, they voted down the application so administration can explore and see if they can implement a new zoning bylaw or policy. The purpose of the new piece of policy would allow staff to approve or deny these types of applications moving forward without a drawn-out bylaw process before City Council.

“We’re just really ad-hoc here, we’re just winging this one at a time, we’re really inconsistent,” Councillor Wayne Price said at City Council. “Let’s get staff to provide some good sound rationale in the form of policy and they move forward making these decisions based on policy.”

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Mayor Lee Pratt told that City Council has been discussing this potential policy for about 15 months but nothing has come to fruition as of yet.

“It’s not that we’re really against it but we’d like to have some more direction and guidelines to go by,” said Pratt. “Once we get that set up it shouldn’t even have to come to Council, it should just be, there it is in the zoning, yes you can do it, adhere to the building permit, the building zone and you’re done. That’s the idea of it is we can empower the staff to make that decision once the bylaw is in place.”

Mayor Lee Pratt, Councillor Wayne Price and Councillor John Hudak voted down the specific application to pave the way for staff to explore the new piece of policy. Councillors Mike Peabody, Norma Blissett, and Ron Popoff all agreed that the policy is needed but voted in favour of the specific zoning amendment, feeling it would be unfair to deny the developer their application at this time while City Council and staff determine the new zoning bylaw. Councillor Wesly Graham was not in attendance Monday, leading to a tied 3-3 vote which defeated the motion on the floor and subsequently stopping the specific application.

Price said at City Council that they are simply “one-offing” these applications and that something has to give, believing they should move forward with the new policy at this time.

“We haven’t been consistent, so changing their zoning, eliminating CD8 and getting those specifics into the R1, that way we won’t see it, these things won’t come to Council, staff will be in power to deal with these and it will be this legitimate criteria you meet or need to be built, so it’s going to be very straightforward, fair and consistent.”

It’s unclear at this time if a new zoning policy would allow City of Cranbrook staff to approve or deny secondary suite applications without the input of City Council under terms and conditions in the B.C. Building Code or Local Government Act, although that is what administration will now be investigating and seeing if it’s possible.

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