Council approves zoning change for secondary suites

Neighbouring property owners worried about traffic safety, transient renters.

A subdivision up near the Mount Royal neighbourhood was rezoned to allow the development of legal secondary suites despite pushback from neighbouring property owners.

City council voted unanimously to the change, which changed the subject property on 30th Ave North from Single Family Residential to Comprehensive Development Zone 8: CD-8 Single Family Residential – Secondary Suite.

All five councillors referenced the need for more rental housing and affordable home ownership in Cranbrook during the discussion. Mayor Lee Pratt and councillor Isaac Hockley were absent.

“We have a great need in Cranbrook for all types of housing, for all age groups and certainly I think it is our role as council to encourage development within our city limits and to help the growth of our community,” said Norma Blissett, who served as acting mayor.

“Our low vacancy rate is a deterrent for businesses coming to town and so it is part of our role to address that and this is one of the ways we can address that on a small basis.”

The secondary suite provision was criticized by neighbouring property owners who were concerned that renters would increase traffic and cause noise complaints.

Now, with the proposal of this zoning change, what our concern is with these 13 lots, is most houses come with two people, two cars…put in secondary suites and most likely you’re going to end up with three cars, four cars,” said Ken Bettin. “If there’s teenage children, it could be more than that.

Without a doubt, they’re all not going to be parking in the garage, so you’re going to have the impact of parking on the street.”

The lone road into the proposed development, a cul-de-sac, also drew concerns over access for fire and medical emergencies, however, Wayne Price, the director of Cranbrook Fire and Emergency Services, assured councillors and the public gallery that the street is wide enough to accommodate a fire truck.

Much of the concern with the rezoning also centred on the recent history with the property, as it went through a zoning application to multi-family residential two years ago that was rejected by council.

“It appears to be a back door or an end run similar to the ones that were rejected already and that’d be my reason for going against it,” said Dan Jones.

However, despite some opposition, there was an owner of one of the lots in the subject property in favour of the zoning change.

Janice Sommerfeld said she had just retired, has plans to travel and wants a secondary suite in her house so that someone is living there in her absence. A secondary suite could also serve as living quarters for a relative who may wish to move to Cranbrook or a caregiver in the future.

“I would like to do this legally and with the safety of everyone in mind and have it done to code,” said Sommerfeld.

Councillor Wes Graham added that given the affordability challenge for younger homeowners, a secondary suite could provide some mortgage relief.

“When we’re looking at the housing market, I’m a prime example of somebody who has mortgage helpers,” Graham said. “I have two people live in my spare bedrooms. I rent out my spare rooms because it helps me cover the bills when I’ve started out to get my house.”

Rocco Potorti, the developer of the property, said he wanted the rezoning for legal secondary suites to help younger homebuyers get into the market, adding that the appraised value of the home is greater.

Potorti also said Cranbrook has many illegal suites that are not safety designed or built and are missing other elements such as soundproofing.

“I would think in my view, I’d rather have a subdivision that is well done and that it has the provisions to have all these things addressed,” said Potorti, “and that is the safety of the people that are laving within that residence — upstairs or downstairs, and once that’s done, its good for the people who are buying the home, it’s affordable.”