Saanich resident Vernon Lord has started a petition opposing the proposed bylaw amendment which would increase unrelated occupant limits from four to six.
Unrelated occupancy limits have been a controversial issue in the District since it was brought to council in early 2019.
Saanich Council is proposing amending Bylaw 2003 to allow 6 unrelated roomers in a home zoned ‘Single Family Dwelling’. The current # allowed is 4. Please sign the petition requesting Council leave the number of unrelated roomers at 4. https://t.co/W0TNvLoMhr
— Vernon Lord (@GoVern2018) February 6, 2020
Most recently, a council meeting at the end of January was dominated by discussions relating to the restrictions on unrelated occupants. After reviewing a staff report containing several options for moving forward, council voted to send the option of increasing the unrelated occupancy limit from four to six to a public hearing.
Lord, treasurer of the Camosun Community Association, said he has attended every council meeting where unrelated occupancy is discussed. He’s concerned about what the proposed increase will mean for the Saanich neighbourhoods near the University of Victoria and Camosun College campuses.
In an effort to be heard, Lord, who ran for Saanich council in the last election, started an online petition on Change.org as well as a physical petition – both of which he plans to present at the public hearing. He has been going around the District knocking on doors to inform residents of the issue – as he said many residents are unaware – and to collect signatures.
“A groundswell of support for the ‘leave it at four’ is growing,” he said. “Increasing the number in any way will cause irreparable harm.”
In the petition description, Lord explained that while residents acknowledge the high cost of housing in the area, they feel the increase is “not needed, not wanted, short-sighted and counterproductive to lowering the cost of homes in a family neighbourhood.”
Lord’s goal is to get as many signatures as possible. By mid-February, more than 100 people had signed the online petition and when the hard copy signatures are added in, the total was about 250, he said.
People who signed the online petition were prompted to leave responses outlining their reasoning. Some expressed concerns about excess noise and others noted the parking is already out of hand.
Lord encourages Saanich residents to do their research and “make an informed decision” on the issue in time for the public hearing which he expects to be scheduled in either March or April.