The Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) is on the verge of amending a bylaw that will allow for on-site homes to be built in a trailer park in Saltair.
The move comes amidst an outcry from locals who are saying CVRD officials are sending affordable housing to the wall in the area.
A public hearing has been scheduled for this Thursday (March 6) at the Mt. Brenton Centre in Saltair.
According to the CVRD, the purpose of Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw 3781 and Zoning Amendment Bylaw 3782, which are the subject of the public hearing, is to amend the Manufactured Home Park Zone 1 (MP-1) to permit “site built” dwellings as an alternative to mobile homes and modular homes that are presently permitted in the MP-1 zone.
Saltair Oceanfront Estates is a 16-lot strata manufactured home project being developed on the former site of the Saltair Mobile Home Park. The property is zoned MP-1, which allows mobile homes and modular homes, but not conventional dwellings built on site, sometimes referred to as “stick built” or “site built” dwellings, according to the CVRD.
According to WCY Rentals, which owns the property, they were approached by local businesses asking them to apply to include site built dwellings in the zoning, which would translate into the possible creation of and/or support of local jobs and suppliers.
“The CVRD is on the verge of changing affordable housing in the Cowichan Valley forever,” Saltair resident Lynne Smith, who is against amending the bylaws, wrote in an e-mail to the Chronicle. “[It] is on the verge of amending the Manufactured Home Park MP-1 zone bylaw in Area G/Saltair.
“What does this mean to affordable housing in the CVRD? It means that land speculators will be looking at properties zoned MP-1 as land grabs. The past tenants of Seaside Manufactured Home Park (Seaside Trailer Park) could tell you what it is like to be evicted to the curb.”
Back in 2007, WCY Rentals bought Seaside Trailer Park, planned for re-development, and ended up evicting many residents who were living in manufactured homes in the park. Very little happened apart from a few fallen trees back in April 2008 that forced some residents out quicker than they would have liked, according to Smith.
WCY Rentals has its development permit and all other necessary permits for the development, and the current zoning allows 15 modular homes, plus the existing house and cottage, on the 1.8-hectare site for a total of 16 bare land strata lots. The existing zoning allows 15 units per hectare — or 27 units on the site — and the proposed amendment to the zoning bylaw would permit nine units per hectare — or 16 units on the site.
If the amendment goes through, Smith fears a similar approach will be taken by developers across the valley and beyond.
“If the CVRD approves theses amendments, [it] will change the face of affordable housing and possibly changed the density allowed in rural and semi-rural areas in the Cowichan Valley forever,” she said. “What happens in one CVRD electoral area zoning bylaw is like a virus and spreads to other electoral areas. It can even set a precedent.”
Thursday’s public hearing will start at 7 p.m. at the Mt. Brenton Centre at 3850 South Oyster School Rd. in Saltair.