North Cowichan will soon be seeking public input into allowing more secondary suites in the municipality. (File photo)

North Cowichan will soon be seeking public input into allowing more secondary suites in the municipality. (File photo)

North Cowichan moves forward with secondary suites bylaw

Public hearing on issue tentatively scheduled for Oct. 4

The public will soon have their say on allowing secondary suites in neighbourhoods in North Cowichan where they weren’t permitted before.

Council gave the first two readings to a bylaw that would allow thousands of attached secondary suites in numerous residential neighbourhoods — including those zoned R2, R2-A and R3 — in the municipality for the first time at its meeting on Sept. 6.

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Staff have tentatively scheduled a public hearing on the issue for Oct. 4, with the time and place to be announced.

The staff’s report and recommendations will be forwarded to the municipality’s community planning advisory committee for its next meeting for further input and suggestions.

The staff report states that over time, an unknown number of secondary suites have been illegally constructed on properties not currently zoned for that use and without building permits to confirm compliance with the requirements of the BC Building Code, which raises safety concerns.

As well, the report points out that there is an increased awareness of the benefits of secondary suites, including as a form of affordable rental housing, income assistance, family support and aging in place.

Coun. Al Siebring said he’s “surprised” how easy the process to allow more secondary suites in the municipality is.

“I’ve always wanted to get moving on this and now that staff has come up with this great idea to amend the bylaw, we’re just doing it,” he said.