Saanich to change parking requirements for new housing developments

CHEK

Saanich councillors have directed staff to change parking requirements for all new housing development projects to address affordable housing.

On Monday, in an almost unanimous vote, councillors voted to lower the parking minimums for all forms of new builds and convert those minimums into maximums for certain-sized projects.

“Reducing the need to build parking also reduces building expenses,” said Coun. Teale Phelps Bandaroff.

Bandaroff and Coun. Zac de Vries brought forward a policy framework for parking requirements.

For new developments of 12 units or less, the minimum amount of parking spaces per unit for single-family, two-family dwellings, and attached housing would go down from two spaces to one.

It would also reduce the current minimum for apartments from 1.5 spaces per unit to one.

For new developments with more than 12 units, the current minimums would instead convert into a maximum.

Single-family, two-family, and attached housing would be allowed a maximum of two parking spaces per unit, and apartments would be allowed only 1.5 spaces per unit.

Phelps Bandaroff says this move will help reduce the cost of housing projects.

“If they would like to build more — which they probably don’t want to do — they have to apply for a variance,” said the councillor.

Coun. Nathalie Chambers was the only one opposed, arguing that there wasn’t enough public input ahead of the decision.

“When there is no parking, people park on residential streets. It causes safety issues,” said Chambers.

Chambers also expressed concern that staff are being directed to request funding for separate changes in the framework, which would compete with other incentives seeking funding.

“There’s also the bylaw enforcement and signage needed for PKOLs and other areas in our People, Pets, Parks implementation to be successful that are all going to be competing for a one-time surplus ask,” said Chambers.

The request for funding would only cover separate changes that staff are exploring, such as addressing current bicycle and vehicle parking rates. The funding would not be used for the parking requirement changes for new housing developments.

Coun. de Vries says this policy framework aligns with incoming provincial legislation.

“It goes above and beyond the province. It puts in a framework where we’re building the amount of parking that we need and not more,” added de Vries.

Changes to the bylaw are expected to be made by the summer.

Oli HerreraOli Herrera

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