Letter to the editor: The thin edge of the wedge, answers wanted

Ron Paull discusses the city's affordable housing strategy and the rezoning to allow secondary suites.

Editor:

 

I couldn’t help but notice the city’s large ad on page four of Wednesday’s Observer announcing the Feb. 25 public hearing aimed at allowing secondary suites in Carson Subdivision.

Be aware that this is the thin edge of the wedge that is the city’s new housing strategy and, if unchallenged, will see an eradication of single family residential zones in our city.

While we should legalize and bring up to code much of our existing multi-family housing, I question council’s agreement to allow secondary suites in single family residential zones of our city.

Doesn’t council realize that Quesnel already has some of the most depressed rental rates and real estate prices in western Canada?

Sure, large-scale affordable housing initiatives are necessary in Vancouver where rental rates are many times what they are here. Is “open zoning” the trendy new “sustainable” flavour of the day?

Will it maybe get the city a grant? Are they afraid to crack down on illegal suites?

Have they simply given up on enforcing their own bylaws?

Why mess with the few surviving single family zones when so many of the city’s residential parcels are already zoned for secondary suites?

We bought and built in a single family zone in good faith, entrusting the Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaw to legally preserve our environment and our land values in perpetuity.

Sure, we paid a premium dollar for our single family home and we don’t gripe about paying proportionately higher taxes in our single family neighbourhood. Condos and gated communities like Aveline Place are single family and adult only zones, so why the double standard?

As a long-time home owner in Johnston Neighbourhood, I question whether the aging, leaky infrastructure in our little corner of town can even support an influx of secondary suites, (in addition to the illegal suites already condoned.)

Will more bodies, using more sinks, showers, toilets and washing machines further hinder our sporadic water pressure? The re-routing of traffic from Carson Subdivision through our neighbourhood was bad enough and soon… more traffic? What about air quality? Secondary suites will force more parking on our streets, many of which do not even have sidewalks.

What about snow removal? And all those extra garbage cans? Driving to and from Johnston neighbourhood is already a challenge, especially when the Davie Street underpass is closed for months at a time.

What effect will all this have on our long struggling commercial rental housing market? Why not make landlords clean up their places? Will this pre-empt properly structured seniors’ housing and social housing? Is an unlimited proliferation of basement suites really the answer? I think not.

An upside for us? Our taxes will likely drop as a result of deflated property values.

How about the cost to all taxpayers as home owners like us duke out this betrayal in the courts? (Lawyers love this stuff!) Finally, don’t half our council members live outside the city? Will it affect them?

Ron Paull

Johnston Neighbourhood