Pre-emptive planning

A public hearing has been set for May 27 to discuss an amendment to define building parcel coverage in the zoning bylaw.

A seed that might germinate into a bigger issue in planning will be nipped in the bud.

Council gave first and second reading to bylaw 2553 and set a public hearing for May 27 to discuss an amendment to define building parcel coverage in the zoning bylaw, closing a loophole which allows a roof or eave to extend well beyond the exterior edge of the footers or foundation.

This, in turn, could allow the actual coverage of the parcel to be exceeded well beyond the prescribed amount in the zone, said Mike Maturo, the city’s manager of planning and development.

“As building parcel coverage is also defined as density in the bylaw, there is a risk that a development

footprint could therefore circumvent a critical feature of the zoning bylaw,” he said in his report to council.

Though there may not be many instances of development in which the building parcel coverage is expanded beyond the bylaw’s intent through this loophole, those that do occur would leave lasting impacts on the surrounding neighbourhood’s character, Maturo noted.

Councillor Cary Fisher asked if the city received several applications where people really “hung it out there,” or was the public meeting and amendment a preemptive measure.

“Did you think this could be a potential problem in the future?” he asked.

One situation currently existed that could challenge the bylaw, Maturo noted.

“But even if it is just one situation, the concerns that are being raised from that, the surrounding neighbours as well as the impact on the neighbourhood is significant enough that we should just stitch it (shut),” he said.

This would ensure no end-around runs on the bylaw would occur in the future, Maturo noted.

The intent of the building parcel coverage is to provide a consistent development footprint within a neighbourhood, to limit massing of buildings on parcels and to provide permeable non-developed surfaces for storm water percolation.

In the current definition, there was no limit to the distance the roof or eave edge could extend outwards from the footer or foundation edge of a building, as that is not included in the measurement formula.

The amending bylaw would allow a maximum of up to .6 metre or two feet for any roof or eave extending beyond the footings or foundation, after which the remainder of the extension would be included in the building parcel coverage calculation.

Setting the public hearing ensures that the intent of the bylaw is upheld, said Maturo. While most developments feature roof eaves extending between .6-1 metre (two to three feet) beyond the exterior edge of the building’s footings or foundations, there have been inquiries which have highlighted the loophole.


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