Zoning update is moving along

"We do have to compete with other markets to attract
people to move here." - Coun. Bill Drysdale

Wind turbines, produce stands, coach houses and drive-thrus are just some of the many items you’ll find in the Town’s updated Zoning Bylaw.

The Town of Ladysmith has been working on updating its Zoning Bylaw since October 2012. Throughout the process, the Town has considered how to implement the Official Community Plan (OCP) and Sustainability Strategy into the Zoning Bylaw, as well as creating one Zoning Bylaw for the Town.

The draft Zoning Bylaw was presented to council and the public in late May, and Town staff will now revisit the ideas, concerns and proposals brought forward by council and the public. The bylaw will then go to council for first and second reading and then a public hearing.

The draft updated Zoning Bylaw permits a broad range of uses in the downtown area and provides a new downtown live/work residential option. It also permits coach houses in and around the downtown.

There are enhanced commercial and industrial job zones, as well as new zones for shellfish harvesting, agriculture and forestry, and zones for cultural facilities.

If the new Zoning Bylaw is adopted, urban agriculture would be allowed on residential lots, with small produce stands permitted. Produce stands would be limited to a maximum size of 10 square metres.

Coun. Duck Paterson was concerned that people would be able to sell animal products such as hamburger, which could smell and attract flies. He said that while he thinks produce stands are great and help promote buying and selling locally, he was worried about the possibility of importing farm products.

“You can only sell from a produce stand what you can grow on that property,” explained Felicity Adams, the Town’s director of development services. “Farm use is not allowed on residential land.”

The new Zoning Bylaw adds regulations for energy devices such as solar, wind, geothermal and heat pump energy.

Paterson wondered if the Town had looked at the possibility of wind energy device on municipal lands, such as parks, as he thought the opportunity could present itself that the Town might be able to consider wind turbines in areas such as Aggie Field or Forrest Field.

When wind energy was brought up, a couple of people in the audience cautioned that wind turbines are very noisy.

Regulations for coach houses would limit them to 60 square metres in size, five metres in height for a one-storey building and 6.6 metres for a two-storey building, and two would be permitted per parcel. They would be permitted in the R-2, R-2-A, R-2-LW and RU-1 zones, and there would be siting regulations, with the character of the coach house managed through the Development Permit process.

Coun. Jill Dashwood hopes to see the Town consider increasing the coach house limit to 90 square metres, like Nanaimo.

“I feel by limiting ourselves to 60 square metres when Nanaimo does 90 square metres, we might be limiting ourselves to being approached by a lot of people for variances,” she said.

Coun. Bill Drysdale was also concerned about the size of coach houses being proposed, wondering about the feasibility of having a safe fire exit in such a small space.

“I think it’s doable, but I don’t think it’s receptive to a small family,” he said. “We do have to compete with other markets to attract people to move here. I’m reluctant to restrict it to such a small size when communities around us have bigger sized coach houses. I’d also like to know from a builders’ perspective if that will restrict their design. We need to have regulations that will facilitate a builder making some money and facilitate a young family having an opportunity to have a place to live that they can afford and that allows them to move up the chain.”

Adams says staff took the size limit idea to the public and to council, and the policy direction was that they are supposed to be subsidiary to the home.

There would be no changes to the secondary suite regulations.

The new Zoning Bylaw would prohibit big box stores (which are larger than 2,090 square metres), commercial composting, kennels, pawnshops, slaughterhouses and uses with a drive-thru service across all zones.

Rob Johnson recommended that council revisit the idea of pawnshops because they are a viable business, and he also said that while he understands prohibiting drive-thru services in the historic downtown area because it would hinder the heritage appearance, he thought council should reconsider allowing drive-thru service on the highway side of town.

In terms of parking, the new Zoning Bylaw would provide flexible parking options in the downtown, permit a shared parking option and require bicycle parking in certain circumstances.

Adams says the shared parking option is an opportunity for some areas, such as a church with a daycare or Coronation Mall where there are also offices open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., to share parking spaces and reduce the amount of spaces required.

There would be a permeable surface option for parking lots, and there would be options for paying the municipality in-lieu of providing off-street parking spaces in certain conditions, and there would be parking options for small cars, motorcycles and scooters, and electric vehicles.

“Lots of options for people is what we’re trying to do, recognizing that people drive and use vehicles, but we want to make the best use of those spaces,” said Adams.

For more information about the proposed changes, visit www.ladysmithzoningbylaw.ca.