CVRD zoning bylaw will encourage market gardening and allow egg sales from a home

Rural Comox Valley zoning bylaw “more permissive”

Apr 29, 2019 | Government, News

By George Le Masurier

This article has been updated

After elected officials have added more than 60 amendments to a 14-year-old bylaw, it’s time to update the bylaw.

Ton Trieu, the Comox Valley Regional District’s relatively new manager of planning services, is rolling out a proposed updated zoning bylaw this month that will govern land use and density for rural areas A, B and C.

The new bylaw excludes Denman and Hornby Islands because land use there is governed by the Islands Trust Act.

Trieu says the changes will make the 2005 zoning bylaw consistent with the 2011 Regional Growth Strategy and the 2014 Official Community Plan.

“We’re also trying to capture the new trends in development,” Trieu told Decafnation. “We want it to be less restrictive, more permissive.”

Rural residents will have three opportunities in May to review and comment on proposed changes before it goes to a public hearing in August. The Electoral Services Commission will consider the updated bylaw in the fall.

Trieu said the existing bylaw is “still a good bylaw,” but it needs tweaks to adjust to constantly evolving development trends. And, he hopes, to make the bylaw less confusing.

Highlights of the proposed changes include a friendlier approach to home businesses, agriculture, aging in place, sustainable energy initiatives and incentives for economic development. The bylaw will also address sign clutter.

Trieu said this update of the zoning bylaw will not address vacation rental or cannabis issues. Planners will address those two issues separately in what Trieu expects will be the first two amendments to this updated bylaw.

Rural living

The new bylaw would permit market gardens, chickens and honey bees on parcels larger than .2 hectares (about a half-acre). It would allow residents to sell these products — including eggs, honey and vegetables — on their property. Selling meat is still prohibited, which is regulated by other authorities.

“You won’t be able to turn your property into a slaughterhouse,” Trieu said.

The maximum allowable height of accessory buildings would be increased from six meters to seven meters. The height change would reduce the large number of variance applications regarding building height that now cost property owners $500 to file.

Economic Development

The bylaw changes would encourage some home-based businesses by allowing one commercial vehicle with a maximum gross vehicle weight of 15,000 kg or greater (15 tons). The current bylaw allows only a single one-ton vehicle.

There aren’t many commercial zones in the rural areas, but veterinarian offices would be allowed in them because most of their work is mobile now. Horses and large animals are no longer brought to clinics.

And parcels of two hectares or larger (about five acres) could allow uses like home-based auto mechanics, with proper screening and setbacks.

The new bylaw would place some controls on the number of people congregating for some home-based enterprises, such as yoga studios or hair salons. There are no restrictions under the current bylaw.

Aging in place

The updated bylaw would offer more flexibility in carriage house design.

New regulations would not require the first and second floor square footages to match, and the area of the second floor could be smaller than the first.. And it will permit internal staircases to the second floor.

The height of carriage houses would rise to eight meters, to allow higher first floors for the storage of recreational vehicles or tall boats.

Sustainable principles

To encourage the use of solar panels, they would no longer be included in building height calculations. In the past, adding solar panels to a roof has put a building out of compliance.

And the updated bylaw would allow domestic wind turbines, as long as specific setbacks are met and they are not connected to the electrical grid.

Updated zoning maps

The CVRD hopes to make zoning rules clearer by reducing the number of zones.

For example, Residential 2, Residential 1B, Residential 1C and Residential D would all be collapsed into one zone, Residential 1. 

The new bylaw would also reduce split-zone properties on a voluntary basis. There are more than 80 properties in the CVRD rural areas that have both residential and commercial zones or residential and Agricultural Land Reserve zones.

The unique Commercial Composting zone, which is heavily regulated by the province, will be eliminated.

New sign rules

A new feature would regulate signage in rural areas, although it won’t be a detailed sign bylaw like those in Comox Valley municipalities. There are no regulations on signs in rural areas now.

The sign regulations would prohibit flashing signs and third-party signs, and specify a maximum size.

Third-party signs are those signs on properties not owned by the person or business being promoted. Although the new bylaw would allow temporary third-party signs, such as real estate or campaign signs

How to get involved

Trieu has scheduled three public workshops in May to explain the proposed changes. Copies of the proposed bylaw will be available. A public hearing is scheduled for August.

MAY 6, 2019 | 3:30–7:00 PM
Union Bay Community
Club and Recreation Association
5401 South Island Highway, Union Bay

MAY 16, 2019 | 3:30–7:00 PM
Oyster River Fire Hall
2241 Catherwood Road, Black Creek

MAY 22, 2019 | 3:30–7:00 PM
CVRD Boardroom
550B Comox Road, Courtenay

Residents can also learn more online



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