Much has been written about the District of Squamish’s inability to efficiently serve developers whose primary motivation is most often rooted in maximizing profits without consideration of community development as a whole. Criticism is levelled at municipal hall for building and development permit delays, zoning inconsistencies, lack of follow-through, etc. The District has gained a reputation of being tough on development, sustainable or not. This author, for one, has contributed in this criticism within a public realm several times.
As most municipalities within Metro Vancouver are struggling in providing affordable housing, and adjusting official community plans to focus on more density within single-family residential zones (RS-1), it appears that the District has taken the lead in allowing coach houses on lots in RS-1 zones. This, in a way, enables millennials who moved here from far away to purchase their starter home, and if they get just a little more financial support from their friendly mortgage broker or mom and dad, they can build a second rentable dwelling on their lot.
This does make sense and will be an acceptable avenue for Squamish to provide affordable housing. When the District council passed the zoning by-law revision in article 4.38 earlier this year, there was little fanfare from the media. I guess no one really took note or understood what it meant. Nevertheless, the District deserves Kudos for such a progressive move. Well done!
Article 4.38 allows a secondary dwelling unit over a garage up to 70 square metres as long as the total building including garage does not exceed 140 square metres. This to a height of 6.7 metres. This is huge, as it enables economic design alternatives, suitable for lower budget options. An approach, which may reshape Squamish’s rental affordability in the foreseeable future.
Rommel Design Ltd.