Those itching to have their say on Saanich’s unrelated occupancy limits can mark their calendars as a public hearing is set for Saturday, June 20.
The number of unrelated people Saanich allows in a home has long been a divisive topic. Some feel limiting the number of unrelated residents permitted to share a home is unfair, while others have said allowing more people in a home could cause problems for neighbours.
The decision to host the hearing on a weekend was to allow more residents to attend and speak their minds as many work during the week, Mayor Fred Haynes said.
A public hearing to discuss increasing the number of unrelated occupants from four to six was originally scheduled to take place in March and was cancelled along with other gatherings, meetings and public hearings to avoid spreading COVID-19.
After getting the green light from the province, Saanich resumed public hearings electronically on June 2. Residents were asked to call in to express thoughts on various zoning bylaw amendments. Haynes was pleased that the process went smoothly and that public input was collected effectively by phone.
“I’m quite optimistic that we’ve got the system ironed out,” he said.
The hearing takes place via conference call on Saturday, June 20 at 10 a.m. Haynes said no concrete end time has been set as the discussion could span more than one day – participation is expected to be high as unrelated occupancy is “an item that has considerable community interest.”
Anyone wishing to speak at the public hearing is asked to register by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 250-475-5501 before noon on Friday, June 19. Residents must indicate which meeting they wish to speak at and the topic they’ll address.
Written comments will also be accepted and can be submitted by email, by mail or in the drop box outside municipal hall until noon the day before the hearing. All correspondence will be part of the public record.
Haynes hopes to see the province allow electronic public hearings to continue after the pandemic. The phone-in model makes public hearings more accessible as it will allow residents to be heard and listen to others from the safety of their homes.