The District of Squamish has scheduled a public hearing for a change in local laws that would secure 309 units in 12 apartment buildings as rentals in perpetuity.
The public hearing will be held at the municipal hall on September 3 at 6 pm. The bylaw has already received first and second reading; once the bylaw is passed only residential rentals will be allowed at the 12 sites.
The intention is to preserve rental stock in town’s tight rental market. Based on 2016 census data, there are a total of 1,990 rental units in Squamish. With the change in law, the district will be able to protect 309 or 15 per cent of the rental stock in Squamish.
“The bylaw amendment will ensure that these existing rental units remain rental units indefinitely,” according to the district.
If the amendment passes through, then owner-occupied units would not be permitted in the 12 buildings. If the property owner wants to redevelop the building, he would have to provide the same number of rental units that currently exist on site. However, the property owner may create additional units for sale.
It was in May last year the province changed the law to allow local government to authority to zone properties just for rentals with an aim to increase housing affordability.
The legislation allows local government to enact zoning bylaws to preserve rentals and restrict new development for rentals in the community. The new law also gives leeway to municipalities to require that a certain number, portion, or percentage of units are rental.
In response to the district, owners of five buildings said they were interested in redeveloping their property, with two wanting to redevelop as purpose built rental. Owners of three buildings expressed interest in maintaining the building in its current form and tenure for the foreseeable future. However, owners of three of the buildings said the proposed rental tenure zoning would limit their redevelopment potential and was too heavy handed.
New Westminster is the only municipality that has brought forward such a bylaw, although it is being challenged in court on the basis of a procedural error. A decision has yet to be made.