Around 200 people attended the Delta zoning bylaw public hearing on Jan. 30. (Grace Kennedy photo)

North Deltans ‘second-class citizens’ in new zoning bylaw, residents say

Delta's zoning bylaw saw significant opposition from North Deltans at public hearing

Delta’s proposed zoning bylaw did not get a warm reception from North Delta residents at its public hearing.

Around 200 people were at city hall to discuss proposed changes to the zoning bylaw on Tuesday, Jan. 30.

Given first and second reading in December, 2017, the updated zoning bylaw saw a number of administrative changes and a number of restrictions added to its residential zones. These included a minimum lot width of 11 metres for subdivision, a minimum lot width of 15 metres for houses with secondary suites and a requirement for houses with secondary suites to provide parking along the side of the property.

Related: Proposed Delta bylaw to change rules about secondary suites, parking

Council received thousands of pieces of correspondence about the bylaw in advance of the hearing: 126 letters in support and 3,192 in opposition. Forty-five people signed up to speak at the public hearing, which ended up lasting more than four hours. Most of those speakers were from North Delta, and most of them were opposed to the updated bylaw.

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Speakers on both sides of the debate focused on the same core issues: affordability, for both homeowners and renters, and parking. Where they differed is how the bylaw should deal with those issues.

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Although the majority of speakers were from North Delta, residents in Ladner and Tsawwassen shared many of their concerns. Georgia Primar, a Tsawwassen real estate agent, opposed the bylaw because of the restrictions it places on secondary suites.

“I feel the new parking bylaw isn’t fair,” she said. “Most properties, they’re not wide enough to have the parking beside the house. And we need young families to live here to keep our communities vibrant.”

North Delta speakers overwhelmingly felt the bylaw unfairly targeted North Delta. Speakers focused on the housing cap, implemented in the early 2000s to prevent the development of mega homes on large properties in North Delta’s small-home neighbourhoods and unchanged in the updated bylaw. They also commented on North Delta’s design review process for developments, which is not part of the proposed bylaw.

“North Deltans are second-class citizens when it comes to developing their homes,” one resident said, noting that North Deltans have to submit paint colours to the planning department to get approval for developments.

“This is 2018,” he said. “Why aren’t you doing this in Ladner. Why aren’t you doing this in Tsawwassen?

“You say there isn’t a difference between communities, but there is a big difference.”

Delta’s director of community planning and development Marcy Sangret didn’t speak in depth on the North Delta design review process, only noting that it was not part of the zoning bylaw and all developments had to go through a character review.

Earlier in the evening, in response to a question posed by Mayor Lois Jackson, Sangret did say that the bylaw was intended to provide a consistent approach to all of Delta.

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“The reason we have policies to try to provide clarity, whether people agree with what the policy says or not,” she said.

“What we try to do is make sure we can be consistent, so we don’t have decisions being made by different staff that are different.”

No decision was made on the bylaw that night — council moved to discuss the public hearing at the regular council meeting on Monday, Feb. 5.

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