North Cowichan is on the right track allowing secondary residences and suites to be built on rural properties.
It’s also a good idea that they’re holding on to enough control to consider them one by one, each on its own merits.
As North Cowichan’s planning manager Rob Conway told council last week, the folks that are asking to be able to build these dwellings are mostly those who want to share their large property with adult children or aging family members. This makes sense. People want to continue to be able to live in their homes, but maybe can’t take care of the property as they used to when they were younger. They still want their independence, as do their family members, who are otherwise willing to live nearby and help out.
Similarly, there’s a reason that in-law suites are a thing. As people’s parents age, they may still be mostly independent, but would benefit by being closer to a younger relative.
Generations sharing a single property are becoming more and more common. North Cowichan is getting with the times with this change.
We do, however, think that the allowable size is on the small side at a maximum of 1,000 square feet. A modest rancher, after all, is 1,200 to 1,500 and someone with a young family may struggle in less square footage. But those are details that can still be looked at and tweaked, if it’s deemed necessary.
We do think it’s a good idea that these requests will still each be looked at. Nobody wants unrestricted urban sprawl. That’s what zoning and planning are for, after all. Most wouldn’t want people to just be able to put up a whole bunch of rental accommodations on their property, for example, thus totally changing the nature of the neighbourhood. Sudden mass housing density would be undesirable, and would likely lead to property speculation.
But allowing you to move on to the property so you can help out mom and dad? Or moving mom and dad into a home on the property? That’s a good idea.