The City of White Rock has placed a moratorium on issuing building permits for coach houses, pending a review of the zoning bylaw that allows them.
The step, taken Monday at city hall, arose during discussion of a motion by Coun. Al Campbell to prevent any more of the accessory structures from being built in the city.
Coun. Louise Hutchinson said while she is generally not in favour of coach houses, she couldn’t support an outright ban without first hearing from staff.
“They do have a place in many municipalities. They work very well in Vancouver and Burnaby,” Hutchinson said.
“I think it would be very remiss of council to make this motion in the absence of any staff input. We have to be really sure that they are not going to work in any other place.”
Campbell announced his motion at the July 28 council meeting, describing the option to build coach houses as “a loophole we have to close.”
They are a selling feature; an open invitation for additional suites, contributing to parking and overcrowding, he said.
Monday, Campbell reiterated his belief that “there is no place for coach houses in our city,” and he took umbrage with Hutchinson’s suggestion for a staff review.
“I couldn’t disagree with you more,” said Campbell. “I don’t need staff to waste their time telling me this won’t work.”
While Campbell said he supported a zoning amendment in 2011 that cleared the way for a Finlay Street development that includes coach houses, he regrets the decision.
“It was sold to us that these were great additions,” he said. “Future development to the east of that is going to suffer because of that call.”
Coun. Helen Fathers cast the sole opposing vote regarding rezoning the Finlay lots. She said Monday that an experience posing as a prospective buyer only strengthened her resolve. She said she was told not to worry – that a basement suite could also be put in after the city had given the project the green light.
“I heard it straight from the horse’s mouth,” she said.
Asked what the city’s options were, director of development services Karen Cooper said council could place a moratorium on the building permits and go through the process of amending the zoning bylaw; determine what lots would support coach houses; or establish criteria to improve coach-house developments.
Mayor Wayne Baldwin described Campbell’s motion as “probably the right course of action.”
“I know what he’s getting at. I’ve seen that mess on Finlay, I don’t like it,” he said.
At the same time, he said there are instances where it may be “probably necessary” to allow coach houses; for example, on large estate lots. It would “not serve us well” to impose a blanket prohibition, he said.
Baldwin said a moratorium would allow time for due consideration of the issue.