Saanich council will look to a public hearing to provide feedback on a bylaw change that would raise the limit on the number of unrelated residents legally allowed per household from four to six.
It’s been a contentious issue for the District since council requested a staff report on the concept over a year ago. Coun. Zac de Vries has been pushing for policy that would see the limit for unrelated residents eliminated, making it the same as for families. That motion failed in a 6-3 vote Monday night, but another option – to raise the limit from four to six – received unanimous support from council.
The next step is public input.
“I think the public hearing is a very important process,” de Vries said. “It’s a chance for everyone to speak and offer their feelings and ideas toward the change.”
In de Vries’ opinion, much of the discussion that’s come up around unrelated multi-person dwellings has stereotyped students or people living with roommates.
“Parking, noise, garbage, these are issues across Saanich,” he said. “They come from people who are both related and unrelated.”
He added: “Given the kind of broad generalizations in public discourse so far, I think that raises concern. There is nuance and complexities…students are not the only people who live together and are unrelated.”
At least two Gordon Head residents agree.
Jane and Patrick Brown received a petition stuffed in their front gate, asking them to help fight the bylaw change.
“This change will turn [Gordon Head] neighbourhoods into boarding houses for UVic students,” the note reads. “Saanich is a single family neighbourhood, we would like it to stay that way. [Four] unrelated persons per house is more than enough in a single family neighbourhood.”
But the pair were not persuaded. Patrick Brown said they support the bylaw change.
“We have been much younger people and grew up in different circumstances,” he said. “They do get to doing a little partying at times and are a little loud and ruckus, but there are ways and means of controlling that.
“The cost of rent is exorbitant and several people living in a residence makes it a little bit more affordable. We expressed our support with a letter to council.”
A date for the public hearing has not yet been set.
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