City keeps control over suites

Vernon officials hope to keep landlords accountable for tenants while following the letter of the law.

A legal opinion called into question the city’s ability to force an owner to reside on a property that has a secondary rental suite, so the draft bylaw will now change so only one rental suite is allowed per single-family residence.

“It does basically the same thing,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky Monday.

“If only allowed to one tenant, most economic drivers mean they have to live in it (property).”

Staff had recommended scrapping restrictions altogether.

Opposition to changing the bylaw came from Councillors Bob Spiers and Juliette Cunningham, who wanted the status quo by ensuring a property owner lives on site.

“We’re trying to be sensitive to residents that will be impacted (by suites),” she said of noise and traffic issues.

During a public hearing, council was urged to consider the needs of neighbourhoods and to require property owners to live on site with tenants.

“For most taxpayers, their home is their biggest investment and they deserve protection of that investment,” said resident Barry Beardsell.

“They want to see the character of the single-family zone maintained.”

Cathy Brothen told council there have been issues with rental suites in her area.

“The owner of the house lives in another country and we watch the problems balloon,” she said of parking.

Bill Wagner also called for some guidelines, such as a limit on how many suites are allowed in a particular area.

“You are introducing a business into a residential area and because you don’t have the property owner there, you have no one to complain to,” he said.

Chris Brothen questioned the need to change the owner occupancy rule based on other cities across the province.

“There has not been a legal challenge to this requirement in any jurisdiction,” he said.

Chris Brothen added that his neighbourhood’s concerns are not an attempt to prevent rental suites.

“We do encourage secondary suite usage in Vernon. They provide mortgage help and allow families to stay together longer,” he said.


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