Tag Archives: secondary suites

First All Candidates Meeting tackles suites, LRT, and regional planning

The first of nine all-candidates meetings for Saanich council hopefuls is in the bag.

Hosted by the Victoria Real Estate Board Monday, councillor candidates had the opportunity to speak on such issues as legalizing secondary suites, light rail on Douglas Street and McKenzie Avenue and slow processing of building permits.

“Right now there’s no incentive. Those legalizing (their secondary suite) are spending more money than those cutting corners,” said candidate Harald Wolf, advocating for an expanded border for legal suites. Incumbent Leif Wergeland agreed that giving homeowners incentives to legalize would help.

Dean Murdock and Vicki Sanders stressed that legalizing suites is a safety measure. Both incumbents supported expanding the legal suite area beyond homes south of McKenzie Avenue, so long as the new areas are near amenities and transit.

Rob Wickson, a strong advocate for light-rail transit, said the cost of a system from downtown Victoria to Langford comes with a hefty price tag. But he said residents aren’t aware that much of their tax dollars are spent to improve roads used by single-occupancy vehicles.

“What is the expense of not doing (light-rail on Douglas)?” asked incumbent Vic Derman, saying if it isn’t implemented the region will likely “degenerate.”

Susan Brice and Paul Gerrard both called for a referendum once a full business case is available. That would allow Capital Region residents to decide themselves whether a billion-dollar light-rail system is their preference.

Casey Edge, director of the Canadian Homebuilders’ Association, asked candidates how they would improve the notoriously slow issuance of building permits in Saanich.

“We’re not Langford. Saanich will never be Langford. We have many more hoops for people to jump through, like environmental and transit (expectations),” said incumbent Judy Brownoff, defending a more thorough approval process.

Nichola Wade commended Saanich staff for doing what is asked by council, even if it takes more time.

“We (as councillors) set the vision, that’s our role – it’s not handling things at a staff level,” Wade said.

Candidates Ingrid Ip and Jesse McClinton were absent from the meeting.

The three mayoral candidates were not asked to take part in Monday’s debate.

There are eight more all-candidates meetings scheduled prior to the Nov. 19 election.

It’s time to look at permitting suites in all areas of Saanich

Suites study lacks terms, time line
By Natalie North – Saanich News

Saanichites living south of McKenzie Avenue have had a year to legalize their secondary suite – and 30 homeowners have done just that. But residents outside of the selected study area, including those in neighbourhoods already dense with illegal suites, are still not sure when they’ll be able to legalize their suite.

And as it turns out, council doesn’t know either.

Coun. Dean Murdock is critical of the lack of terms placed on the “selected study” and questions if that title is a misnomer. He says he’s hearing complaints from residents north of McKenzie who want to legalize their suite, but can’t.

“There was no time line (placed) on how we would revisit it, and furthermore, there were no indicators for how we would measure whether or not it was successful, other than we would know based on the number of permits issued or what the uptake was like,” Murdock said.

The councillor is currently door-knocking in preparation for November’s municipal election, and says residents in the High Quadra area have asked what options they have to own a legal suite.

The president of the North Quadra Land Use Association says he’s experienced a lack of concerns from area residents who want a legal suite.

“I don’t know exactly how (Saanich is) going to deal with this issue and how many people are waiting,” said Haji Charania. “To the best of my knowledge, the experience in other municipalities is legalizing suites is met with moot response.” And so far in Saanich, that appears to be the case.

Mayor Frank Leonard says a change to the study would have to be instigated once a report from the planning department is submitted to council, which would happen no earlier than September.

The municipality’s director of planning, however, maintains the request to revisit the issue needs to come from council.

“(The intent of the study) was to focus on this issue in one defined area, take a review of it at some point in time and say, ‘Are there things that we can learn from this?’” said Sharon Hvozdanski. “But there was no specific time set by council in terms of when this matter would come back to them.”

Don Gunn, vice-president of the Gordon Head Residents Association, calls legalizing existing suites a foregone conclusion, because like Charania, he hasn’t heard his neighbours request the ability to legalize their suite.

Leonard suggests those residents outside of the study area who want a legal suite should contact their neighbourhood association. It could potentially expedite the process by bringing the issue to the forefront of the association’s agenda.

Secondary suites provide badly-needed housing

For landlords and tenants, back to school housing crunch make for tense relationships

By Kyle Slavin – Saanich News

Demand is down, but that doesn’t mean the University of Victoria needs fewer dorm rooms on campus.

“If we had another building we would fill it. People like to live on campus because it’s so convenient,” said Kathryn MacLeod, director of residence services at UVic. “I don’t think we’re in the danger of not needing more … It would be great to have more residences.”

At this time last year, there were more than 1,400 people on a waitlist for student housing.

But last week – just days before the semester started – there were only 179 people waiting for a bed.

MacLeod attributes that to better information given to returning students, telling them their chances of securing on-campus housing are slim.

And with a slightly higher number of students at the school this year, more will be living in apartments and basement suites in the community.

Rob Hanzek, who rents out the lower level of his home in Gordon Head, reminds landlords to ensure they have a very clear tenancy agreement in place and know their rights if they end up having to deal with “slum” tenants.

Last year, he said, he rented his suite to two students who held loud parties that repeatedly drew the ire of neighbours and police, and damaged his home before moving out.

“I thought I was being diligent the first time around. I spoke to their previous landlords and I did all of the due diligence that I normally do with any tenant, and there weren’t any flags that came up,” Hanzek said.

When he tried to give a 30-day notice to end their tenancy, the students disputed it and stayed another 30 days in his home.

A spokesperson with the Ministry of Housing and Social Development, which includes the Residential Tenancy Branch, says disputes are common. The best way to avoid them is through landlord-tenant co-operation.

Both parties have extensive responsibilities and rights to ensure the others’ are protected.

Saanich is currently looking at legalizing secondary suites, which aims to give renters and landlords another level of comfort and security. Since secondary suites have already existed, legalizing them would allow for better enforcement, said Saanich Coun. Dean Murdock.

“What I think it would do is improve the living conditions …” he said.

“It’ll allow Saanich to evaluate whether or not those suites provide the standard of living, that they conform to the building code, that they are appropriate for inhabitants.

“Permitting secondary suites is an effective way for council to bring some organization to a rather chaotic situation.”

Hanzek encourages both landlords and tenants to brush up on the Residential Tenancy Act so they aren’t put in a sticky situation long after the fact.

“I’m renting (my suite) out again and I fortunately found tenants whose parents were very involved in their pursuit of a location, so I have a good rapport,” he said. “But I always have it in the back of my mind that it could happen again, there’s no question about that.”

Secondary Suites Public Hearing

SECONDARY SUITES IN SAANICH ON DISCUSSION TABLE

Jun 16, 2010 CFAX 1070

A PUBLIC HEARING IS SCHEDULED FOR NEXT WEEK ON THE ISSUE OF PERMITTING SECONDARY SUITES SOUTH OF MCKENZIE IN SAANICH. SAANICH COUNCILLOR DEAN MURDOCK SAYS THERE ARE A NUMBER OF QUESTIONS ON THE TABLE, WHICH HE THINKS WILL BE TACKLED AT THE MEETING.

“There were a number of questions raised around restrictions, for those who say have a boarder or a student living with them, and they would possibly want to have a secondary suite as well, confusion around the wording in the by-law amendment, whether or not dual purposes will be permitted, how you would accomodate vehicle parking in that situation, whether or not you would still be allowed to have family members stay with you as well as secondary suites.”

SAANICH IS NOT THE ONLY MUNICIPALITY WRESTLING WITH THE IDEA OF PERMITTING SECONDARY SUITES. OAK BAY JUST RELEASED THE RESULTS OF A PUBLIC FEED BACK CAMPAIGN ON THE ISSUE WHICH FOUND A VERY SLIM MAJORITY IN FAVOUR OF PERMITTING SECONDARY SUITES THE MEETING TAKES PLACE TUESDAY AT 730 PM IN THE COUNCIL CHAMBER.

Saanich Council Supports Secondary Suites

SAANICH ONE STEP CLOSER TO ALLOWING SECONDARY SUITES

CFAX 1070 – Apr 14, 2010

TUESDAY NIGHT COUNCIL ENDORSED A MOTION THAT MOVES THE MUNICIPALITY FORWARD IN THE LONG DISCUSSED ISSUE OF SECONDARY SUITES.

SAANICH COUNCILOR DEAN MURDOCK IS HAPPY ABOUT THIS BUT SAYS THERE ARE STILL SOME CHALLENGES INCLUDING NOISE, OWNER OCCUPANCY AND PARKING

“So one of the conditions for permitting a secondary suite would be off street parking. You would have to provide a parking spot within the property, you couldn’t rely on street parking as a way for folks to park their vehicles. That goes towards addressing the situation I don’t think it’s going to be a perfect solution but certainly it allowes us to bring some semblance of control.”

SPEAKING ON CFAX 1070 WITH MURRAY LANGDON MURDOCK SAYS THIS WILL TRY TO APPLY SOME MECHANISM OF CONTROL TO A RATHER CHAOTIC SITUATION.