Ladysmith zoning bylaw update looks into coach housing

An update to the Town of Ladyzming zoning bylaw proposes a number of regulations for coach houses.

A detailed update to Ladysmith’s zoning bylaw looks set to go ahead after increased affirmation from council Oct. 30.

A special meeting was held at City Hall, where project consultant Brent Elliot presented the bylaw update to council and the Town’s Advisory Planning Commission (APC).

The meeting drew a detailed discussion on the construction of coach houses as accessory buildings, a conversation Mayor Rob Hutchins described as “the toughest of the night.”

“Coach housing is something that’s new, but it’s been an issue in the past,” Elliot said at the meeting. “We wanted to introduce it gradually so it’s something that’s not widespread.”

Hutchins confirmed a recent survey proved that 96 per cent of locals wanted to legalize secondary suites and 66 per cent are for the prospect of coach houses, if one is desired.

“The majority of people say it’s a good thing. The concerns were the height and the placement in the lot. We want [to continue to strive for] driving distance to major amenities,” said the mayor.

The main regulations proposed for coach houses are as follows:

• They are only permitted in R-2 (rural) zones where a rear lane exists.

• Maximum floor space is 60 square metres.

• Height is limited to 6.6 metres, which is around 22 feet.

• The coach house may exist as either a detached at-grade dwelling or as part of a two-storey garage.

• The address of the coach house is to be clearly seen from the street and, for safety and visibility purposes, a clear path is to be provided from the front parcel line to the coach house.

• For privacy issues, a continuous arc of six metres must be established, unobstructed by neighbouring buildings, from each transparent coach house window.

The majority of councillors were pleased with Elliot’s proposals.

“I’m impressed with your intent to find a balance [between privacy and regulations],” said Coun. Steve Arnett. “My preference would be to have a coach house at-grade rather than over a garage, as it protects privacy better. But overall, I’m in favour.”

Coun. Bill Drysdale echoed Arnett’s thoughts.

“I think this will work because if you have a 20-by-32 garage, you can then put a coach house on top if the lot is big enough,” said Drysdale.

Coun. Duck Paterson briefly highlighted the minimal amount of rural areas in the town.

“My concern is that these are strictly for where lanes exist. There’s [basically] no rural properties in town (with lanes),” he said.

Felicity Adams of the APC, the Town’s director of development services, seemingly calmed Paterson’s fears instantly.

“We’re bringing in [a segment] of the bylaw to rectify that for some homes,” she said.

Coun. Glenda Patterson said it was important for council to get back to people, who have garages, with the regulations.

Hutchins was also in favour of the proposals but voiced his concern about form of character and design of the coach house.

“If you have an older housing stock with a brand-new coach house rather than 1950 vintage, where’s the tradition?”

Coun. Gord Horth concurred with the mayor.

“We are primarily an old town, and I’ve seen some places that haven’t done a good job on design,” he said.

If the bylaw update is finalized, it will likely come into place in early 2014.

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