Summerland council is considering bylaw changes to allow secondary suites on agricultural properties within the community. The changes come as a result of regulatory changes by the Agricultural Land Commission. (Summerland Review file photo)

Summerland council is considering bylaw changes to allow secondary suites on agricultural properties within the community. The changes come as a result of regulatory changes by the Agricultural Land Commission. (Summerland Review file photo)

Summerland considers changes to rules on secondary suites

Council contemplating allowing secondary suites on agricultural properties

In an effort to increase housing supply and in response to regulatory changes by the Agricultural Land Commission, Summerland council is considering changes to carriage houses and secondary suites and also secondary dwellings on agricultural lands.

At the Dec. 13 Summerland council meeting, council directed staff to initiate a planning review project for regulations governing secondary units.

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Early in 2019, Summerland council made zoning bylaw regulatory changes to allow for carriage houses in urban and rural residential zones. This change allows for a second dwelling located within an accessory building with up to 90 square metres of floor area. At the time, carriage houses were not permitted on properties within the Agricultural Land Reserve, as residential development on those properties was limited to farm residences and dwelling buildings for farm help.

However, on June 12, 2021, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries announced changes to its regulations. These changes will allow for a secondary dwelling on certain properties within the land reserve. The regulations will take effect Dec. 31.

“The District of Summerland contains a significant amount of land that is included in the Agricultural Land Reserve which limits the ability of the district to respond to growth pressures and housing supply concerns,” Brad Dollevoet, Summerland’s director of development services, said in a report to council. “Allowing small-form secondary homes on agricultural lands may be one way to address local housing supply and market pressures for this housing type.”

Coun. Erin Carlson said there are concerns about this change, including the effects of urbanization and its impact on agriculture. Water use on farm properties could also be affected, she said.

In November, the Agricultural Advisory Committee raised concerns about water capacity and about the process of reviewing applications for additional residences.

The committee also raised questions about how carriage houses on agricultural land would fit in with agri-tourism regulations.

Dollevoet said the project would include consultation with agricultural landowners, consultation with council’s committees and additional research and background information. If the project were to begin in January, it would be completed by the end of May, 2022, he said.

The decision to initiate the planning review was passed unanimously.

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