Some Sunshine Hills residents concerned over plan to re-zone the North Delta neighbourhood

Ninety per cent of residents signed a petition to limiting house sizes in the community, but some are worried about the effect it will have.

Debate is growing concerning plans to re-zone Sunshine Village to prevent the development of so-called “mega-homes” as the deadline for public comment looms.

A petition from the neighbourhood advocacy group Save Sunshine Village was submitted to council in October asking for re-zoning for the neighbourhood, including limitations on house size, height, setbacks, site coverage and a ban on secondary suites.

At the time, the petition met the required 75 per cent resident support to move forward. A letter was mailed out to residents and a public consultation took place on December 6. The proposal is now under a public comment period that will cease at the end of January.

The Save Sunshine Village website expresses concerns over a loss of green space and character of the community caused by the development of mega-homes.

“Mega-home developments decrease green space, and increase traffic, parking, pollution and noise,” it reads. “When non-residents buy property in Sunshine Village with plans to tear down and replace existing homes with a mega-house, with no plans to live in the community, it can only be viewed as a business interest.”

Under the proposed re-zoning, the maximum size of a new dwelling on an existing serviced lot would be no larger than 4,000 square feet, and the building/dwelling footprint would not exceed 30 per cent of the existing service lot.

A representative from Save Sunshine Village declined to speak to the Reporter on the record or comment directly at this point in the process, stressing it is now in the hands in the Corporation of Delta’s planning department.

But Sunshine Village resident Steve Welsh is among those who would like to see more compromise and discussion. He is concerned about decreasing property values as a result of the re-zoning.

Welsh said he has concerns over misrepresentation of the petition, which he said was presented in a way that indicated all neighbours had signed and may have led people to agree without being fully aware of the implications.

He didn’t sign the petition, and recalls being surprised when he received a letter from the Corporation.

“Then it was like, well whoa, hang on here, what’s this all about?”

He would like to see an extension of the public comment process, and said people are able to remove their signatures from the petition after reconsidering.

“We’re not saying we’re for or against it but we seem to think the land use contract that they’re proposing right now is a little too extreme,” he said.

One issue with the use of the term mega-home, he said, is that what exactly constitutes one is not defined.

“If our house burned down today, according to this land use contract, we couldn’t even build the same house on our lot. That rather concerns me.”

He stressed he does not want to plug the process, but wants to see further open discussion. “This extreme NIMBY-ism [not in my backyard] is a little hard to swallow.”

Resident Firth Bateman agrees. He was among 16 people who attended the second meeting of residents who have concerns over the re-zoning. A third meeting is currently being planned.

“We’re concerned, partially because of the potentially significant economic effects of an initiative like this,” Bateman said in a phone interview. “The potential of those kind of effects needs to be well understood.”

He also expressed concern over constraints on secondary suites.

“Secondary suites contribute to a community; they make homes in the community more affordable to young families wanting to either buy into the community from elsewhere, or to remain in a community they grew up in,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Bateman refutes claims on the Save Sunshine Village website that 100 per cent of residents were opposed to the development of what is referred to as a mega-home on Westview Drive.

“I live in Sunshine Village. I was never asked if I agreed with the Westview Drive proposed development.”

Delta realtor Darrell Poetker agreed more consultation could be beneficial.

“I get it, I completely understand the rationale behind it, but I think there’s some room to tweak this whole thing,” he said. “There’s room for more discussion and perhaps some compromise on both sides.”

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said the corporation started “spot community area zoning” in 2004 in compliance with the wishes of people in neighbourhoods who did not like large homes coming in and displacing smaller community dwellings.

“This has sprung from a community, which illustrates to me that we do have a democracy, and they are representing their right as a neighbourhood,” she said.

She said the Sunshine Village petition had about 90 per cent approval, but she does expect there to be some opposition.

“That’s their right to speak, but majority does rule in a neighbourhood of this size.”

Meanwhile, on the Save Sunshine Village website, a post dated Jan. 2 alleges an information pamphlet that uses their logo but is not affiliated with the group had been delivered to homes in the neighbourhood.

“This correspondence is clearly intended to derail the Sunshine Village area petition/re-zoning application,” the post reads. “We would like all property owners who signed the petition (90 per cent of you) to know all the work by our community group over the past year now rests with Delta’s planning department.”