LETTER: Saanich occupancy bylaw needs more safeguards for residents

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Re: Saanich sets new date for public hearing on unrelated occupancy bylaw.

I live on a street in the Gordon Head area that includes, within the single-family zone, a subsidized housing complex for seniors. The Anglican Foundation applied to add additional housing and update the old buildings. The changes did not fit within the current zoning, and after much consultation with the community, the zoning was approved, and the additions went ahead. I was in support of the changes.

I have lived at the end of my street for 16 years, next to a rental house owned by someone residing in Vancouver. And for 16 years renters in this house have been a problem. Some examples include drugs, out-of-control dogs, short-term rentals, parties and fights.

How do we deal with all of this? Call bylaw we’re told. Call the police we’re told. We do, but the occupants get told to stop and it just continues.

So, when Saanich council thinks they are addressing the problem of a housing crisis, what safeguards are they planning to put in place to help other residents with their concerns? I wrote to council asking for a copy of the study and report that I expected would have been done supporting the need for the change. I was sent a copy of the proposed bylaw change.

We don’t deal with traffic problems by putting in a new road and then leaving out centre lines, stop signs and speed limits, then tell people to call the police if they see speeders.

My recommendation is regulate houses that are put up for rent in which the owners do not live. These houses are a business operating in a residential neighbourhood. And like any other business, they should be held accountable. They should require a licence and a guideline package. Vancouver has already done this. Licences would be annual and require renewing depending on infractions of law or bylaw.

Give us some tools to help make our neighbourhoods happy and healthy places to live, not places where frustrations run so high that neighbours are pitted against each other.

Sue Colgate

Saanich

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