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OPINION – Chilliwack Council’s Statement on Small-Scale Multi-Unit Housing

Chilliwack – In a June 5 opinion piece shared to media:

The City of Chilliwack has long supported responsible housing growth and affordable housing projects in a way that reflects the needs and wants of our community. The provincial government, through Bill 44, has put that in jeopardy. As a Council, we are deeply frustrated that the province will not allow us to hear from the community or provide cities with adequate time to manage the impact growth has on infrastructure.

As we near the provincial government’s deadline to update zoning bylaws, Council has reluctantly approved zoning bylaw amendments regarding small-scale multi-unit housing (SSMUH) in Chilliwack. Under the province’s legislation, SSMUH allows three to four units on properties within the urban growth boundary that are zoned for single-detached and duplex housing. Before this legislation was enacted without proper consultation, these types of units would have been subject to a public hearing, where Council would have had the opportunity to hear from the neighbourhood and consider the impact of development on the neighbourhood and surrounding infrastructure.

The addition of SSMUH to our zoning bylaw was not something Council wanted to do, but we worked with staff to comply with the legislation in a way that we hope will work for Chilliwack. Staff have done their best to maintain existing zoning regulations wherever possible, and when not, they have recommended compromises that will meet the new legislation.

While we must now allow up to four units on single-detached or duplex zoned lots that are greater than 280m2 and are within the urban growth boundary, we are able to maintain many of our existing zoning parameters. For example, we will maintain existing zoning regulations of two parking spaces per unit for off-street parking requirements, instead of the province’s recommended 0.5 – 1 space per unit. We hope this will help alleviate some of the anticipated street parking concerns that we know will result from other changes required by the province.

As a Council, we want the community to know how displeased we are about the many changes the province is forcing all municipalities to make, and that we will continue to advocate for a more sensible, comprehensive approach to increase the housing supply. Taking away the voice of our residents on matters that directly impact their neighbourhoods is undemocratic and creates a myriad of challenges for all communities in BC.

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