Saanich council passes motion allowing six unrelated people to live under one roof

Saanich council passes motion allowing six unrelated people to live under one roof
Nicholas Pescod/CHEK News
In a rare Saturday meeting, District of Saanich councillors approved a motion that allows six unrelated people to live in the same dwelling at one time.

Saanich council gathered on a rare Saturday public hearing to discuss the highly debated topic of changing a bylaw to allow more than four unrelated people to live in one residence.

The meeting lasted for nearly six hours, council hearing from more than 60 residents who called in to voice their opinion, on whether or not the limit should increase from four unrelated housemates to six.

The verdict after the six hours of opinions and deliberation? Saanich councillors voted 6-3 in favour of the motion, effectively allowing six unrelated — those who are not related by marriage or blood — people to live in the same home.

“This is about a lack of diversity and flexibility within our housing stock,” said one caller. “Horrific, classist, and quite honestly, disgusting”

It’s a rule that has made things especially difficult for University of Victoria and Camosun College students, as they struggle to find affordable housing.

RELATED: UVic students evicted due to Saanich bylaw want it changed

But some Saanich residents had their concerns about the impacts students can have on their neighbourhoods

One resident opposed to the increase in capacity said, “Overflow parking, often unkempt yards, noisy parties and at the end of the school year, a pile of quote free furniture.”

UVic student Emma Edmonds is all too familiar with the four-limit rule. She and her six roommates were evicted from their Saanich home back in December of 2018.

“This isn’t about noise, this isn’t about parking, we have other bylaws for that,” said Edmonds. “This is about class and people being uncomfortable with the change in class demographic in Saanich.”

READ MORE: 97-unit affordable seniors housing development proposed in Saanich

But it’s not just about parking, some residents fear the rule change will make the municipality even less affordable than it already is.

“Converting living rooms, basements, or building boxy additions will add to the market value of a house, further pricing families out of the Saanich market,” said one concerned caller.

The newest rule change brings a sigh of relief for some university students, as of the almost 20,000 undergraduate students just at UVIC alone, roughly 80 per cent live off-campus.

Rebecca LawrenceRebecca Lawrence

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