A small group of Quesnel residents braved the winter chill to ensure their voices were heard by City Council members during a public hearing held in the City Hall Council Chambers on Dec. 3.
The bylaws up for discussion during the hearing were the City of Quesnel Official Community Plan (OCP) Bylaw No.1879 and the City of Quesnel Zoning Bylaw No.1880.
The current OCP was adopted in 2007. The proposed bylaws (1879, 1880) would be complete revisions to the city’s existing OCP and Zoning Bylaw.
The major changes under the proposed bylaws are in the areas of First Nations collaboration, flood plane and hazardous area development, new housing opportunities, urban agriculture, environment and sustainability, fire smart policies and commercial area developments permits.
During the hearing, members of the public expressed concern with some of the changes being made with regards to new housing opportunities. The City of Quesnel says the proposed changes would “allow for greater infill housing to support many of the emerging housing needs that have been identified” according to the City’s Housing Needs, Gap Analysis and Action Plan.
The zoning bylaw would allow secondary suites in all single detached homes, secondary dwellings (more commonly known as coach houses and carriage house dwellings, such as an apartment built over a garage).
These changes, along with provisions being made in the zoning bylaw which would allow for hobby beekeeping and backyard hens, did not sit well with Quesnel resident Ron Campbell, who resides in Johnston Sub.
Campbell said in a prepared statement before council: “There is a lot of ‘aging in place’ here [Quesnel], which means that seniors – and we do have a lot of those, and of which I am one – in Johnston Sub would prefer to stay in their homes than go to a care facility. They would prefer to “age in place”. Many seniors would love to do this, but not if every second home is a secondary suite or is a cottage home and especially if you have hens running around your neighbour’s backyard.”
The proposed bylaws would also change development policy in the West Quesnel Land Stability Area (the Uplands area of West Quesnel).
Quesnel resident and long-time member of the West Quesnel Land Stability Advisory Committee Marty Put expressed his concern that as the proposed bylaws move forward, some residents who own houses damaged by land stability issues have been ignored.
“People up there, we feel kicked to the curb. We hear nothing! I understand that repairs to damaged houses are not municipal thing, but people were promised that the city would reach out a helping hand as far as finding out where people can find support. These people have been left behind,” Put said to council.
With only Campbell and Put having prepared remarks to put before council, the public hearing adjourned quickly.
The third reading and adoption of the Official Community Plan Bylaw No. 1879 and Quesnel Zoning Bylaw No. 1880 will take place during a council meeting set for Dec. 17, 2019.
Full details regarding both the bylaws can be found on the City of Quesnel website.