More secondary suites allowed

Kelowna council decided Tuesday to permit secondary suites in Quail Ridge and several other neighbourhoods where they haven’t been allowed.

Secondary suites will now be allowed in virtually all of Kelowna’s single-family homes.

Despite some opposition from the public, city council voted unanimously Tuesday to permit homeowners to install a secondary suite in several neighbourhoods where they were previously prohibited.

Five people spoke against the proposal at a public hearing, and the city received 16 letters of opposition. One person spoke in favour, to go with the six letters of support for the idea the city had received earlier.

Critics worried about increased traffic and parking problems, as well as an overall decline in the perceived cachet of the neighbourhood.

“Although helpful to a homeowner for financial reasons, the reality is there is over-congestion. Street parking is horrendous. Garages, driveways and streets are over-congested with vehicles,” Louise Fuller wrote in a typical letter of objection.

But supporters said secondary suites had little or no negative impact on a community, widened the rental pool and served as valuable mortgage-helpers.

“Allowing for more secondary suites will make it easier for retired homeowners to access an additional income stream that will make it easier for them to remain living in their home,” Julian and Judy Park wrote in their letter to the city.

Council’s decision allowing secondary suites affects about 1,000 homes, most in golf course-based communities such as Quail Ridge and Tower Ranch, but also certain hillside neighbourhoods and bare-land stratas.

These areas had been exempted from a 2012 council decision that effectively permitted secondary suites in most other areas of Kelowna.

People wanting to install a secondary suite will no longer have to get a business licence, just a building permit.

There are now about 325 legal secondary suites in Kelowna, although there are believed to be many times that number that do not have the necessary city approvals.

Allowing secondary suites virtually everywhere in Kelowna will create more housing options for renters and help homeowners make money off their property, city officials say.

“Safe and legal secondary suites can provide many benefits to homeowners, including a revenue source to supplement income, assist a family member in need and increase the value of the property,” a city planning report says.

Councillors Charlie Hodge, Maxine DeHart and Brad Sieben did not attend Tuesday’s public hearing.

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