(Black Press file photo)

LETTER: House size caps should be removed for all Delta communities

“Bylaws like housing caps may have served a purpose in the past, but need to be updated now.”

(Editor’s note: the following letter has been edited for clarity.)

I write today to highlight the most polarized issue in Delta currently. Suites or no suites, housing cap or no housing cap, affordability versus density; the current housing crisis demands more rental housing given the shortage of roofs over the heads of families, and that is a concern.

Residents definitely look up to the city for cooperation and guidance. Delta’s zoning bylaw needed a new face lift after nearly 40 years and hence began the work to revise it. I will start with … [the] history behind the bylaws and give my opinion in the concluding statements.

Let’s start with the housing cap bylaw that exists only for North Delta. Bylaw 6011 2002, introduced nearly 16 years ago, set the restrictive house size cap. At the public hearing for this bylaw, a number of issues were raised stating that it is discriminatory to apply house size caps only to North Delta.

Large houses are a benefit to neighbourhoods and change should be welcomed. Being “out of context” does not matter, the house size limits do not meet the needs of large extended families living together. Lacking public consultation in a timely manner, the caps would affect the resale value of the property. Despite at the public hearing on April 22, 2002 attended by 175 people, in which two spoke in favour and 17 spoke against, this bylaw was passed. Needless to say, it is an important issue for residents of North Delta.

A 20-member zoning advisory group (ZAG) was established in May 2014 seeking input from stakeholders as part of the zoning bylaw review process, comprising architects, house designers, surveyors, builders, developers and realtors. Four workshops were held with ZAG. In addition to that, two public information meetings were conducted in July and August of 2016 and a questionnaire was carried out to seek input from residents. A total of 1,559 questionnaires were filled by 94 North Delta residents and attendees.

A whopping 85 per cent of all attendees objected to minimum lot width of 15 m (49 ft.) required for a single detached dwelling with a secondary suite, yet it made its way to the zoning bylaw 7600, 2017. What if it is a deeper lot? Eighty-six per cent opposed limiting the size of an accessory structure to 10 square metres, yet it made its way into the bylaw. Also, 89 per cent opposed permitting secondary suite parking only in the side yard, in the rear yard when driveway access is from a rear lane or a street on the side of the lot, or in a garage, yet it made its way to the bylaw.

On Jan. 30, 2018 the public spoke again opposing the changes, and it was heard and noted by council.

Similar to the house cap in place for North Delta, bylaw 6617 was forwarded to the council in September 2017 outlining a Ladner housing cap for consistency. A law backdated 16 years is outdated in today’s time. Housing caps need to be entirely and completely removed from the zoning bylaw and a fair and uniform maximum floor space ratio come back in effect for [all of] Delta. More public hearing, more revisions, more opposition to such restrictive bylaws is not only a waste of time but, most importantly, a waste of taxpayers’ money.

From a fairness perspective, bylaws like housing caps may have served a purpose in the past, but need to be updated now. Residents of Delta look forward to a collaborative approach from the City and moving forward together in making Delta welcoming and adapting to the changing dynamics.

Simran Walia, Delta


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